Can you get a green card for depression?

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In this article we will answer the question “Can you get a green card for depression?”

We will also discuss what are the conditions for a green card related to mental health, and what to do to get one if you have depression. 

Can you get a green card for depression?

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Yes, you can get a green card even if you have depression, however, it is likely that if your diagnosis for depression is related to harmful behaviours, it might decrease your chances of getting a visa or a citizenship in various countries.

For countries like the United States, you might not be allowed to enter the country or remain in the country, if you are an immigrant, if you have a history of a mental disorder due to which you have engaged in harmful behaviours towards yourself or others. 

For most people who are seeking entry into the country, if you have a history of a mental disorder, it is not easy and inadmissibility provisions in the immigarational laws can be a barrier for people with certain illnesses- mental disorders included.

Some Mental disorders that might bar you from a green card can include such as:

  • major depression
  • bipolar disorder
  • schizophrenia, and
  • mental retardation

The reason why these disorders are highlighted is because these disorders pose higher risk for harm towards self and others, as well as higher chances that an immigrant with these disorders might have no source of financial support in the United States.

According to NOLO, U.S. immigration law bars a green card to immigrants if they have a history of a combination of two things:

  • a physical or mental disorder that can be clinically diagnosed and;
  • behaviour associated with the disorder that could pose or has posed a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the immigrant or to others in the public, and is likely to reoccur. 

What are the conditions for a green card related to mental health?

When immigration officials are evaluating an application for a green card, they do not bar people simply because of a mental disorder diagnosis. 

They look into the following:

  • what the disorder is
  • whether the disorder has actually resulted in harmful behaviours
  • whether the disorder is a current problem 
  • How long ago it was a problem 
  • Whether the disorder and its behaviours are likely to recur.

According to writers at All Law, Harmful behaviour that is evaluated by immigration officers include:

  • Inflicting serious psychological or physical injury upon oneself or others (such as attempting suicide or engaging in pedophilia).
  • Making serious threats to someone’s health or safety (like threatening to kill someone or DUIs)
  • Causing major damage to public property.

A history of these behaviours either due to a mental disorder or not, is often enough reason for a person to be barred from entry into the US or to be issued a green card. 

In most cases, evaluations of an individual mental health condition are made through examination by medical professionals and the individual is subjected to a medical exam.

If the individual has not exhibited any symptoms of relapses of the mental disorder for which they were diagnosed prior, it is likely that the evaluation will be favourable since the examining physician can decide that the disorder is in remission or under control. 

In such a case it is likely that the person will be given admission into the country or given a green card to enter the country. 

Can you get a green card for depression?

What to do to get a green card if you have depression?

If you have depression and you are finding it hard to get admission into the country or a green card, you can consider two possible ways to deal with this:

Proof of no harm

First, you have to prove to the officials that despite the diagnosis, the condition is not associated with any kind of  harmful behaviour. 

You can do this by providing documentation about your medical records and treatment plans from your attending physician or specialist that you are seeing for your disorder. 

You can also secure a prognosis from your doctor or therapist that attests that the disorder is not associated with harmful behaviour and that it is controlled and maintained.

Waiver

If you are unable to get a proof of no harm or you have  a history of harmful behaviour due to the depression, you can seek a waiver of the physical or mental disorder bar. 

Waivers could be considered an official documentation of “forgiveness” that can be granted by immigration authorities to allow immigrants to enter the country- it is more or less a pardon- that allows you to enter the country even if you should be barred according to laws. 

For this you will have to apply for a waiver from the Department of Homeland Security in the US but for this you have to provide a detailed medical report discussing the condition.

Along with this you also have to get your doctor to attest why any harmful behaviour will not reoccur, and what treatment you plan to adhere to so that harmful behaviours do not reoccur. 

What is Depression?

Depression or clinically known as major depressive disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders, is a serious mood disorder where people affected by it experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. 

Apart from these symptoms of emotional distress, people with depression can also experience physical symptoms such as chronic pain, or changes in their behaviour such as social withdrawal or slowed movements.

For someone to be diagnosed with clinical depression, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. Let us look at the various symptoms that must meet the criteria for a diagnosis of depression. 

The Diagnostic and statistical manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed) DSM-V outlines the following criterion to make a diagnosis of depression. 

The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure. 

These symptoms should indicate change from normal functioning. 

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day- either by their own observation or observation made by others.
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia. 
  • A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

To be diagnosed with depression, these symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. 

These symptoms should also not be the result of substance abuse or another medical condition.

What to do if you have depression?

A few things that we can do on an individual’s level if you have depression includes:

Seek out therapeutic care

Engaging with a therapist, being diligent with your medication, and making the changes you need to make to get better will determine your prognosis.

Your therapist will help you understand what is happening to you, might prescribe you medication if needed, and can help you tap into your own strengths that can help you adapt to challenges, changes, and overcome them.

Psychotherapy also known as talk therapy involves effective treatment where a person with disorder speaks to a trained therapist to help them identify and cope with their condition. 

Psychotherapy has many forms and techniques, which might take some time for a person with disorders to figure out what is best for them, However evidence suggests that CBT is one of the most effective treatments for depression.

Combined treatment of psychotherapy and pharmaceuticals have been found to be more effective than either stand-alone treatments for MDD; so you have to go see a GP or a psychiatrist as well. 

Join a support group

It is possible that people with depression can also struggle with a sense of worthlessness, a feeling that you have nothing of value to offer. 

By joining a group that is open, empathetic, and growing towards healing, you and your experiences can be an excellent sense of support to someone else who is also in their early part of their journey. 

Focus on resting and recovering

Take time to eat well, rest well, exercise, give time to yourself to think and engage in things you used to like doing before you started working- be it reading comics, or playing video games, or walking your pet.

Take effort to engage in things that you love doing, explore new activities if you feel like it and explore the world around you. 

Conclusion

In this article we have answered the question “Can you get a green card for depression?”

We have also discussed what are the conditions for a green card related to mental health, and what to do to get one if you have depression. 

FAQ related to can you get a green card for depression?

Can you get a green card if you have depression?

For countries like the United States, you might not be allowed to enter the country or remain in the country, if you are an immigrant, if you have a history of a mental disorder due to which you have engaged in harmful behaviours towards yourself or others. 

Can you immigrate if you have depression?

Yes, you can immigrate if you have depression however you must be able to meet the terms and conditions of each country’s laws related to harmful behaviour with respect to mental conditions to be allowed entry. 

What qualifications are necessary to be granted a green card?

Qualifications are necessary to be granted a green card include:

  • You are the Spouse of a U.S. citizen.
  • You are the Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen.
  • You are a parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.

Can I immigrate to Canada if I have depression?

Yes, you can immigrate to Canada if you have depression, however, your applications will be evaluated and you will have to undergo a medical examination by a Canadian licensed psychiatrist. 

References

Ilona Bray. Mental-Health Based Inadmissibility: Which Psychiatric Issues Can Lead to Green Card Denial. NOLO. Retrieved on 15th April 2022. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/psychiatric-mental-issues-can-keep-getting-visa-green-card.html

Robert Herreria. Mental Illness a Barrier to U.S. Immigration? All Law. Retrieved on 15th April 2022. https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/us-immigration/mental-illness-barrier.html

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