May a psychiatric evaluation for immigration be done via electronic video conferencing?

Full Question:

I am an LCSW licensed in Colorado. Is it legal for me to conduct Immigration psych evals by Skype over the internet in or out of state to the evalee?
02/24/2011   |   Category: Immigration   |   State: Colorado   |   #24295

Answer:

The answer may depend on the professional ethics rules and specific regulations established in the profession.

A good immigration evaluation is deemed to require a lot of knowledge and experience from the evaluator. First, the evaluation must involve a thorough examination of the interviewee’s background and present functioning. This most likely will take one-and-a-half to two hours to complete. The evaluator should also make note of the interviewee’s behavior during the interview, including comments on the consistency between the way the interviewee describes him/herself and the interviewee’s demeanor. Psychological tests may be used, but often are not, because available psychological tests are standardized on a population that is very different from those found in many immigration cases (different ethnicity and culture). Finally, the evaluation should contain a good summary of what was found and clear conclusions that are relevant to the legal issues at hand.

Whether or not these concerns and requirements can be accomplished via electronic media, has not been determined by the law. But there has been some discussion in the psychiatric community as to the merits of what is being called "telepsychiatry." Please see the link below.