Hardship Evaluations

Do You Or Your Client Qualify For A Hardship Evaluation?

muslim man hugging his wifeExtreme hardship evaluations are specific immigration assessments performed by a psychologist, used to demonstrate how lawful permanent residency (LPR) could benefit an individual who may be at risk of detrimental separation from their loved ones. Extreme hardship evaluations are also used to demonstrate the impact on a United States petitioner if they are to potentially relocate with the beneficiary who is not a United States citizen or resident. If you or your client qualifies for residency, a hardship evaluation might strengthen your case for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

If approved by the courts, a hardship evaluation could pave the way toward a Green Card or other valid forms of residency. By using this evidence to demonstrate how separation from loved ones, or how relocating together outside of the United States, would result in psychological hardship, these evaluations can be the key to helping families remain intact. 

A Hardship Evaluation Can Enhance Your Immigration Case And Help You Cope With Stress

Whether you or your partner, parent, or child is a non-resident of the United States, you’re likely concerned about how a separation would impact you and your relationships. You may be caught in the difficult position of having to raise a child separately from your partner, being unable to consistently care for an aging or ill parent, or possibly uprooting your life to move to another country if your loved one cannot achieve residency here. 

With the added stress of not knowing what the future holds for your immigration case, you’re probably experiencing an upswing in mental, emotional, and physical symptoms. Maybe you frequently struggle with fear, uncertainty, and anxiety. Or perhaps you feel hopeless that you’ll be able to manage all of your responsibilities without your loved one physically present. Financial ramifications could loom large if your loved one isn’t granted residency. For instance, if they cannot secure a stable, legal job or if you’re burdened by frequent travel and legal expenses, you may worry that the future and livelihood of your family depends on whether or not your loved one can stay. 

A hardship evaluation is meant to enhance your immigration case, providing strong evidence for how psychological symptoms and stressors could potentially worsen without the support and presence of your loved one, or how psychological symptoms and stressors could potentially worsen if you had to uproot your entire life to another country in order to maintain an intact family. Through interviews, subjective and objective testing, and a review of your legal documentation, I can offer you a thorough evaluation to demonstrate hardship in your specific case while offering tailored solutions for long-term stress relief. 

Why Is It Valuable To Have An Evaluation Done By A Mental Health Clinician?

While there hasn’t been much research done on the outcome of hardship evaluations in USCIS cases, there is ample anecdotal evidence to support their effectiveness. Many of the attorneys with whom I’ve worked suggest that the vast majority of hardship evaluations result in LPR approval, with some estimating a success rate of 90 percent. 

Though a non-resident can show proof of extreme hardship via a letter—and many do—self-reports are not as strong as a hardship evaluation performed by a psychologist or psychiatrist. Because these professionals are highly trained in objective testing and mental health conditions, their word tends to carry more weight with the courts. 

Without a thorough clinical report from an experienced mental health clinician, the chance of denial is much higher. Not to mention, there are social and cultural ramifications for families who are forced to separate—persistent shame, sadness, and guilt can result from not being able to keep the family unit intact.

Yet, I am invested in your family’s ability to remain together. An accurate and thorough hardship evaluation can increase your chance of being granted legal residency in the United States. 

Dr. Gabriella Azzam, Immigration And Hardship Evaluation Specialist

As a clinical psychologist, I understand and empathize with the stress, emotional toll, and hardship of the immigration journey. I have dedicated my career to working with immigrants from a wide array of backgrounds—including those from the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East—in the interest of ensuring safe, legal residence and keeping their families together.  

asian mom with her daughterThe way I see it, hardship evaluations have multiple functions. Primarily, they are meaningful evidence in an immigration case. Yet, they also offer answers and support. With my specialization in immigration-specific evaluations, I will not only help you to identify your hardship—I can offer helpful coping strategies and therapeutic interventions as needed. 

Working together, we can normalize the stress and emotions you’re experiencing so that you can increase resilience through what can often be a grueling legal process. 

The Process

In order to get started, you can contact me directly or provide a referral from your attorney. During an initial consultation, we can establish whether or not my services will be beneficial to your case. If we decide to move forward, you will be asked to complete multiple questionnaires to give me a sense of your background and situation.  

From there, we will meet for two extensive interviews (between 60 to 120 minutes each), which can be done in person or via telehealth. In between the two interviews, objective psychological testing will take place to help determine your specific symptoms. If applicable, you are welcome to provide police reports, medical documents, additional psychological reports, or any other materials that may help establish extreme hardship in your immigration evaluation.

Once each step is completed, I will finalize the report in no more than three weeks (21 days), with rush options available for an additional fee. You will be able to review the report and offer additional insight as needed before I send a final draft to your attorney to file alongside your application to the court. In addition to the hardship evaluation itself, I will provide emotional support, therapeutic services, and outside referrals tailored to your specific needs. 

A hardship evaluation can significantly strengthen your immigration case, ultimately determining whether or not you, your loved one, or your client can remain lawfully in the States. By moving toward legal resolution, you can begin to focus on your mental health and lead a healthier, more peaceful life—together. 

Perhaps You Still Have Questions About The Hardship Evaluation Process…

Do you accept payment plans?

Yes. Most of my clients pay a deposit and then half of the remaining fees during the first interview, with the remaining balance being paid at the time of the second interview. However, I aim to be flexible with clients experiencing financial hardship. Other arrangements can be made as needed.

How long does the hardship evaluation process take?

My turnaround time for reports is typically two weeks from the time of the second interview, giving you an opportunity to review and make edits before the final report is completed. All reports are completed in no more than 21 days, with rush options available at an additional cost. 

What is the difference between subjective and objective testing?

asian couple sitting in park with their dogWhile self-reporting of symptoms—otherwise known as subjective testing—is very valuable on its own, only a qualified psychologist can perform the objective testing necessary for a thorough hardship evaluation. These professionals are highly trained in testing norms, cultural awareness, and unbiased assessment. Objective tests are more substantial evidence of how honest and accurate someone is being with their hardship assessment, which attorneys and judges appreciate when reviewing applications. And only doctoral-level clinicians can perform such tests.

Increase Your Chances To Remain In The States Together

If you or your client could benefit from a hardship evaluation for an immigration case, I am a qualified psychologist who can help. To find out more about if my services would benefit you, schedule a free, 15-minute consultation by contacting me. I am licensed to work with clients throughout California and New York.

Other immigration evaluation services:


Cancellation of removal

Immigration Evaluations

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) / Spousal abuse

Victims of Crime (or U Visa)

Victims of Human Trafficking (or T Visa)