Session 173: What is The Immigration Evaluation Process and How to Set Fees And the Systems & Processes For it?



How do the worlds of immigration and LCSW intersect? It may not be a connection that you think of, but the need is there for immigration evaluations to be done, and this is where my guest today has stepped in and found her niche.

Cecilia Racine, LCSW, has a private practice in Fairfax, Virginia. Even though she didn’t start out in the immigration field, she came upon this niche through specific circumstances. Today she shares how she got started with her first client and what the immigration evaluation process looks like. She also explains how she sets fees and the systems and processes that she uses most. We will learn how she markets her practice and how you can get started if you’re interested in making immigration evaluations a part of your therapy practice.

Immigration evaluations can be a valuable revenue stream for your practice. We share ways to begin getting these types of referrals in today's episode! Click To Tweet

What We’ll Learn

  • How she found this niche through her husband, who is an immigration attorney: when she kept getting referrals from his colleagues, she saw the need and made immigration evaluations 100% of her practice
  • The different types of immigration evaluations: naturalization waiver, hardship waiver, and trauma-related evaluation
  • How Cecilia reached out and introduced herself to immigration attorneys, even including a sample evaluation to show them her work
  • Why 95% of her referrals come from attorneys
  • The process Cecilia uses in a hardship waiver case: looking at additional documentation over two meetings and taking up to two weeks to write the average 14-page long evaluation
  • A trauma-related case is more time-sensitive, with a court date being only days away. Cecilia gathers a psychosocial history, description of the traumatic event, and measures PTSD
  • Why she charges for the completion of the work and not by the hour, with the average fee being $750-1250, with a 40-50% increase for expedited work
  • Keep in mind that fees must be proportional, since clients are also paying an immigration attorney
  • Why Cecilia offers payment plans if clients can’t pay up front, but she doesn’t release the final report until the payment is made in full
  • How she uses a color-coded spreadsheet with a customized process for each client
  • Her schedule of meeting with up to 4 clients on Monday and then spending a day on each one, writing, editing, printing, and sending off the report
  • The importance of keeping fresh relationships with immigration attorneys for marketing and referral purposes
  • Why she has clients from several hours away, but has to practice where she is licensed (there is a shortage of therapists who do this work and can speak Spanish!)
  • Cecilia’s advice if you want to get started with immigration referrals: “Test the waters. Start out with one or two clients. There is a greater need with an increase in asylum and trauma cases and there will be more. Reach out to immigration attorneys in your area and polish your writing skills.”


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Find out more about Cecilia and her practice:

Altavista Therapy

Immigration Eval Training

Immigration Evaluation Therapists on Facebook

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