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IMMIGRATION and

MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

Immigration and Mental Health: A Critical Nexus

 

Few areas of the law require a greater understanding of mental health problems, and the opportunities they may provide to deserving individuals, than immigration does. Mental health issues arise constantly in the practice. 

 

  • Has a person seeking asylum at the U.S. border, or within the U.S. after entry, suffered a past mental health injury or trauma that provides the basis for an asylum claim?

  • Would he or she face persecution in the home country in the future because of a mental health condition that developed in the United States?

  • Is the person's mental health condition so impaired that he or she cannot even be put into “removal” (deportation) proceedings, so that the client should be allowed to remain in the United States?

  • Is his or her mental health so impaired that, even if "competent" to go into removal proceedings, special evidentiary allowances should be made for problems like brain damage, memory loss, trauma in recalling certain events, etc?

  • Is the mental health condition of a foreign citizen's immediate family relatives in the U.S. so difficult that they would suffer “extreme hardship,” so that a waiver of immigration violations should be granted, allowing the person to obtain permanent resident status?

  • Even if no formal immigration relief is available to a foreign citizen, should the mental health condition of his or her U.S. relatives still provide a basis for the foreign citizen to live and work in America?

  • Does a foreign citizen's mental health status provide a basis for late application for immigration benefits that would otherwise be lost permanently?

  • Will mental health problems that a permanent resident has provide an easier path for him or her to obtain U.S. Citizenship through naturalization?

 

These are just some of the questions that an immigration lawyer sensitive to mental health problems needs to ask and resolve to serve his clients. Time and again in Brian O'Neill's immigration law practice he has demonstrated an ability to identify possible mental health problems in a client and his or her family, to get them before the proper experts to identify the problems, and to use those problems to achieve successful immigration outcomes.