Immigration Evaluations

The mental health evaluation for immigration can be one of the most importance pieces of evidence for your immigration case.

  • Are you seeking a visa, citizenship, or other form of legal residence in the U.S.?

  • Do you qualify for residency through asylum, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), or an extreme hardship waiver?

  • Could a thorough assessment further explaining your circumstances benefit your immigration case?


Your lawyer may have told you that you need an immigration evaluation. This assessment, performed by a therapist, can help explain some of the psychological, emotional, and physical hurdles you’ve faced on your immigration journey.

Whether you escaped a dangerous situation or are seeking better opportunities, you’ve likely encountered extreme stress, legal hurdles, and prolonged distance from loved ones along the way. The trauma you experienced is a painful yet important part of your story. You may have been the victim of a crime or abused in some way on your path to seeking immigration.

These factors can complicate your transition to a balanced, productive life in the United States. All of this information can be useful to USCIS in determining whether or not you can stay.

What exactly is an “immigration assessment”?

 An “immigration assessment” refers to a mental health (or psychological) assessment that a therapist does for an immigration case. Depending on the type of immigration case, the assessment will address various psychological aspects related to the legal needs in the case, in addition to assessing current symptoms. The therapist’s psychological assessment provides critical  evidence in demonstrating extreme hardship to win an immigration case and often it’s the deciding factor in whether or not a client’s family can stay together or whether a client can escape life-threatening circumstances in their home country.

Types of Cases:

  • Hardship Waivers
  • Cancellation of Removal
  • VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) and Spousal Abuse
  • U-Visas
  • T-Visas
  • Asylum

What's included (2-3 Clinical Interview Sessions totaling approximately 4-5 hours)

First Assessment

  • Consultation with your attorney
  • Review of relevant documents (medical records, police reports, legal documents, etc.)
  • Complete a psychiatric diagnostic evaluation (evaluate the presence of mental health symptomatology, screen for DSM-5 Diagnoses.
  • Administer standardized diagnostic instruments to measure symptoms (e.g. RHS-15, PHQ-9, GAD -7, Brain Body Center Sensory Scales, Neuroception of Psychological Safety Scale (NPSS) and art therapy assessments)
  • A thorough screening of the history of the presenting problem
  • Evaluate and document the unique economic, educational, safety, and health factors of the client and significant others that demonstrate extreme hardship in immigration cases
  • Evaluate impact of immigration event on psychosocial and occupational functioning

 Second appointment:

  • Follow up questions and review of evaluation with client to ensure accuracy to create the most compelling case for justification of Waiver, asylum or re-unification
  • Interpretation of diagnostic instruments results
  • Discussion of diagnosis if applicable
  • Mental health recommendations given, as well as a list of resources and referrals
  • A final report, usually 9-15 pages sent to you and your attorney


Depending on the complexity of the case, a completed assessment can range from $1100-$1500.

Have more questions? Contact us at 309-231-6498 or

About the Evaluator:

Jessica Buescher, LMHC ATR-BC and the founder of Art of the Soul Studio.  She is an expert in trauma and its impact on mental and physical health.  The benefit of working with a Board Certified Art therapist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor is that we are trained to help you articulate your story through images and body awareness when words are not enough. 

Jessica has 20 years experience working in community mental health starting with her first job at the American Red Cross in Communuty Health and Disaster Relief.  She participated in goverment projects in Washington, D.C. in her early career bringing knowledge to the local level leading Americorp and American Red Cross programs.  She worked to build a team to raise community health awareness and in the face of potential disaster.  In 2004, Jessica decided to return to school for a Masters degree in Art Therapy and Counseling.  She completed her internship at the Julian Center (women’s domestic violence center)  in Indianapolis and a small mountain town in Spruce Pine, NC where she served many immigrant children and victims of violence.  After graduation and years working at inpatient facilities, Jessica opened her own community art therapy program called Art of the Soul in 2010. 

In 2013, Jessica was approached by Catholic Charities Refugee program in Indianapolis to assist with building a mental health component of their new program called Preferred Communities.  Jessica continues to work with the Perferred Communities program to this day offering individual and group therapy.  She has completed continuing education in several different modalities including Brainspotting (certified), Polyvagal Theory, Safe and Sound Protocol, SEGAN (Sensation, Emotion, Gesture, Action, Narrative), and Immigration Evaluations.

In 2021, Jessica was asked by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) from Washington, DC to develop a team of mental health professionals to work at Camp Atterbury under the Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) to assist the thousands of Afghan refugees being housed in Southern Indiana.  Her team worked with the military to develop an art therapy studio within the military camp that triaged approxiamtely 700 refugees a week.  The team lived and worked at the camp for 8 weeks. 

Currently, Jessica owns and operates Art of the Soul, a successful group practice that offers individual therapy, consultations, refugee and immigration services.  Recently, she and her business partner opened Healing Seed, an online collaborative for classes, workshops, retreats, training, and more.

Through the course of Jessica’s professional life, she has cultivated her personal life as a military spouse, two children, and a small hobby farm with goats, chickens, a rabbit, a lizard. She loves to travel.  During her graduate studies she spent a month studying in Peru and post graduation lived in Guatemala for almost a year with her son.