Psychological Evaluations in Immigration Court: Considerations for Mental Health Professionals

Presented By Virginia Barber-Rioja, PhD
Virginia Barber-Rioja, PhD

10 hours | 10 CEs

This on-demand professional training program on Psychological Evaluations in Immigration Court: Considerations for Mental Health Professionals is presented by Virginia Barber-Rioja, PhD.

About 11 million immigrants in the U.S. are undocumented, and it is estimated that about 15% of those in immigration detention suffer from a psychiatric disorder (Human Rights Watch, 2010). Political instability around the globe and increased violence in Central America, paired with tougher immigration policies like family separation, are all expected to increase the rates of mental health symptoms in immigrants and refugees.

This highlights the important role that mental health professionals can play in the immigration court system. Mental health experts can aid immigration judges in making deportation decisions in a number of ways based on the type of relief from removal that immigrants are applying for. Persecution-based applications are based on fear of persecution and torture (i.e., asylum) and often involve the assessment of trauma-related symptoms or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

Discretion-based applications can involve the evaluation of the hardship that will be suffered by the immigrant or their family if deported. Evaluations for immigration court are considered a type of forensic mental health assessment and require expertise in both forensic and cross-cultural psychology. In addition, these evaluations present particular challenges as immigration laws are rapidly changing, the referral questions are not always clear, and appropriate testing instruments are limited.

The goal of this program is to provide attendees with knowledge about the legal context of immigration court and the different types of relief available to undocumented immigrants and to review general considerations in the process of conducting evaluations in immigration proceedings.

Intended Audience

This on-demand professional training program is intended for mental health and other allied professionals

Experience Level

This on-demand professional training program is appropriate for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level clinicians.

CE / CPD Credit

APA, ASWB, CPA, NBCC Click here for state and other regional board approvals.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this program you will be able to:

Describe the legal context of mental health evaluations conducted for immigration court

Describe the different forms of relief available to undocumented non-citizens in the U.S. and the related psycholegal issues, including competency to participate in immigration proceedings

Describe other relevant forensic issues in immigration court, such as competency, violence risk assessment, and malingering

Describe the challenges of cross-cultural assessment, specifically the assessment of PTSD, intellectual disabilities, and symptom validity in individuals from a different culture

Describe the different areas of professional competency for mental health professionals who conduct evaluations in immigration court


Presented By

Virginia Barber-Rioja, PhD

Virginia Barber-Rioja obtained her Ph.D. in clinical forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. For 7 years, she worked in the NYC jail system holding the positions of Co-Chief and Clinical Director of Mental Health and Assistant Chief of Forens...


1. Introduction

2. Forensic Assessment Principles

3. Removal Relief

4. Competency

5. Trauma Reactions

6. Considerations

7. Report Writing

Develop a Specialty Area of Practice

Transforming mental health professionals into experts

Expert Instructors

Professional training developed and delivered by the field's leading experts

CE Credit

Earn CE credit for meaningful professional training that will elevate your practice

Convenience & Flexibility

Learn at your own pace, from wherever you might be!