10 Hours | 10 CEs

This self-paced 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 with particular challenges as immigration law is rapidly changing, the referral questions are not always clear, and appropriate testing instruments are limited.

The goal of this training 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.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course 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-Riojas, PhD

Dr. Virginia Barber-Riojas earned her Ph.D to the Clinical Psychology at John Jay Training Area, a discipline within the Graduate Center’s PhD Program in Psychology, in 2009. Upon graduation, she became the Clinical Director of Queens TASC Mental Health Diversion program, an alternative to incarceration program that works in collaboration with the Queens Mental Health Court, the District Attorney’s office and the defense bar. In this position, she helped reshape the program into a clinically informed diversion program that utilized testing and evidence-based risk assessments to aid the courts with eligibility decisions. She subsequently worked for three years as an attending psychologist in the Forensic Inpatient Unit of Bellevue Hospital Center, which provides treatment and assessment to incarcerated individuals with acute psychiatric conditions. In 2012, Dr. Barber Rioja became the Clinical Director of EAC Network’s Brooklyn and Staten Island court mental health diversion programs and jail and prison re-entry programs. In this job, she helped developed the Staten Island Mental Health Court, as well as a prison re-entry program for individuals with Severe Mental Illness.
  • Intended Audience

    This self-paced course is intended for mental health and other allied professionals.

  • Experience Level

    This self-paced course 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.


  • 1


    • Review Before Proceeding

  • 2


    • Lesson 1 Video

    • Multicultural Guidelines

    • Crossroads

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 3

    Forensic Assessessment Principles

    • Lesson 2 Video

    • Special considerations

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 4

    Removal Relief

    • Lesson 3 Video

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 5


    • Lesson 4 Video

    • Disparities

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 6

    Trauma Reactions

    • Lesson 5 Video

    • Psychosocial Impact

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 7


    • Lesson 6 Video

    • Addressing Differences

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 8

    Report Writing

    • Lesson 7 Video

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 9


    • Instructions

    • Evaluation

    • Submission Verification

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  • CE Credit

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

  • Convenience & Flexibility

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