Does Mandamus Only Work in Delayed Citizenship Cases?

The Mandamus lawsuits only work in citizenship cases. We’ve had a lot of success in suing the federal government, USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security when our client’s naturalization cases have taken too long. The law says that if you’ve had your naturalization interview and 120 days have gone by then you can go to the federal court and ask a federal judge who doesn’t work for the Immigration Service to order the Immigration Service to decide your case or the judge can decide on his or her own initiative whether or not you get to become a citizen.

Immigration Service doesn’t like it when you sue them and they don’t like the idea that a federal judge will sort of take their job from them. So, when you file a lawsuit typically what happens in most cases is they decide to decide the case and the case gets moving and cases that have been waiting for two three or four years and finally get resolved. And so that law regarding 120 days is pretty black letter and the Immigration Service doesn’t have a lot of (inaudible 1:09). So, one of the tricks they try now is they don’t schedule the interview right away and so sometimes we’re filing lawsuits for naturalization applicants who have never had their interview because that doesn’t start that 120 day clock and that’s why they do it. But we have had success in getting those cases moving they’re not as highly as successful as the ones where there’s been an actual interview but we’ve probably filed suit on behalf of about 70 people who’ve been waiting for citizenship and the lawsuits generally work, they don’t work in every case, but they work in most cases.

And so we wandered whether or not we’d be able to file these kinds of lawsuits in other cases in the immigration context cases. Cases in which the naturalization was not an issue but rather whether someone could get a green card.

One day young men came to see me and he had filed his own mandamus against the Immigration Service because his green card case of impending too long. They hadn’t scheduled him for an interview in his case have been pending for two years and he and his wife were getting frustrated that every time they went down to the immigration office they couldn’t get any answer. So he figured out how to draft the lawsuit and he file it on his own in federal court.

We don’t recommend this filing a mandamus action is actually pretty tricky and the government was starting to play games with him trying to change venue and filing a motion to dismiss and all these things. So we wanted to see what would happened and we took his case and it turns out that the lawsuit worked almost the exact same way in the green card context as it did in the citizenship context. Since that time we probably filed ten green card delay lawsuits and we’ve had a lot of good success with that. Then one day when she came to see me and she was wondering about her husband’s visa case he was from Pakistan in his case have been pending for two years and we told her that she should sue them and she was sort of skittish and worried about suing them so she didn’t do it. A year later she came back and now she’s been waiting three years and we told her you should sue the State Department, we’ve done some research and figured out that you could in fact sue the State Department in Federal court in the

United States for a delay at an embassy overseas. And she was still skittish and still scared so she decided not to do it. The fourth year she came back and she said, “Okay, Jim let’s go ahead and sue.” So, we filed a lawsuit and within 90 days after finding the lawsuit her husband was in the United States with an approved visa, this was remarkable and it only happened because we filed a lawsuit. And so now we know and we have filed subsequently more lawsuits against the State Department for delays and the issuance of a visa.

Last month we filed a lawsuit over a four-year delay on an asylum case so we’re very interested to see how this case works it’s a lawsuit against a Chicago asylum office where a man has been waiting for four years for his asylum case to be approved. So, these are the kinds of things that you can do with a mandamus lawsuit. Not every immigration lawyer is familiar with the rules of Federal court and filing lawsuits. I had been a litigator for 10 years before I started practicing immigration law so I feel very comfortable in Federal court and the procedures and the filing requirements all those things. We’re going to file a new lawsuit today over in Ohio, we’re excited about that a young man who’s been waiting for citizenship for two and a half years and so these lawsuits work they don’t work every time but they work in a lot of the situations.