Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 11-4-2021


The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of forensic medical evaluations on grant rates for applicants seeking immigration relief in the United States (U.S.) and to identify significant correlates of grant success. We conducted a retrospective analysis of 2584 cases initiated by Physicians for Human Rights between 2008-2018 that included forensic medical evaluations, and found that 81.6% of applicants for various forms of immigration relief were granted relief, as compared to the national asylum grant rate of 42.4%. Among the study’s cohort, the majority (73.7%) of positive outcomes were grants of asylum. A multivariable regression analysis revealed that age, continent of origin, history of sexual or gender-based violence, gang violence, LGB sexual orientation, and being detained by the U.S. government at the time of evaluation request were statistically associated with case outcomes. Forensic physical evaluation was more strongly associated with a positive outcome than forensic psychological evaluation. Our findings strengthen and expand prior evidence that forensic medical evaluations can have a substantial positive impact on an applicant’s immigration relief claim. Given the growing applicant pool in the U.S., there is an urgent need for more trained clinicians to conduct forensic medical evaluations as well as to educate adjudicators, immigration lawyers, and policy makers about the nature of the life-altering events that applicants for immigration relief experience.



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