Suppose you have a US immigration matter pending well beyond standard processing times. You have exhausted all available administrative remedies, and the US government still fails to act on your case; you may be able to find relief with a mandamus action. We discuss mandamus actions to address processing delays for US immigration matters here.
What is a mandamus action?
A mandamus (or writ of mandamus) is an order from a court to an inferior government official ordering the government official to fulfill their official duties properly. This action can be taken to correct an abuse of discretion or compel the administrative agency to take action where there is an unreasonable delay in an immigration matter. A writ of mandamus is considered a last resort that should only be used after all other administrative remedies are exhausted.
When is a mandamus action appropriate?
A writ of mandamus may be issued when an administrative agency, such as US Citizenship and Immigration Services, fails to fulfill its duties in a timely and reasonable manner with very little to no information from USCIS about case status or reasons for the delays. Inaction by the responsible administrative agency often results in family separation, delays in or loss of employment, and of course the haunting stress of an unresolved immigration matter.
What does a mandamus action do?
A mandamus lawsuit can force USCIS to take action where they have failed to act appropriately. However, a mandamus lawsuit CAN NOT order USCIS or any other administrative agency to rule in any particular way on your specific application. If the writ of mandamus is successful, a federal judge will order USCIS to issue a decision on your case. As filing a writ of mandamus is a serious matter, simply filing this action can result in USCIS issuing a decision to avoid further litigation.
Does my immigration case qualify for a mandamus action?
When determining your ability to file a writ of mandamus to compel an immigration agency to act on your case, you should consider the following:
- Do you have a definable right to the relief you are requesting?
- Does the agency in question have a duty to perform that act you are requesting?
- Have you exhausted all other adequate administrative remedies available?
If you can answer “Yes” to the above questions you may have the standing to file a mandamus action to compel the interested government agency to act on your immigration matter.
Will a mandamus action have a negative impact on my case?
A mandamus action does not impact the outcome of your case and the US government cannot retaliate against you for filing a writ of mandamus. The purpose of this action is to force the government to take action on a case that has gone stale that should have been acted upon. There is no negative impact on your case.
Is filing a mandamus action the only way to move my case forward?
A mandamus action is not the only way to move your case forward, it is considered the last action after you have tried all other options. In some cases, contacting the immigration agency where your case is pending to threaten a mandamus action is sufficient to move the case forward. They will do everything they can to avoid a lawsuit. No one likes to be sued not even the government. We can assist with a pre-mandamus action when all else has failed. The following are other methods that can help prior to filing a mandamus action:
My visa application is in administrative processing, what should I expect?
How do I request CIS Ombudsman support?
How do I get congressional help for my immigration case?
Do I need a lawyer to file a mandamus action?
Since a writ of mandamus is a civil action you must follow the federal rules of civil procedures and the district court. Filing a writ mandamus is a very serious matter that requires a unique set of experience and knowledge not generally available to the public. If you feel you have a case against an immigration agency that has failed to take appropriate action on your case, you should work with an experienced US Immigration Lawyer.
Additional Outside Resources
- American Immigration Council – Mandamus May Get Results When Nothing Else Works
- US Department of Justice – Mandamus
- CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, et al. v. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA et al.
We Can Help!
If you have experienced an unreasonable delay in your immigration matter, have exhausted all of your administrative remedies, and believe you have a right to the immigration relief you requested, we can help. Contact us to speak with a US Immigration Lawyer with experience in filing mandamus actions for immigration matters.