The U.S. immigration system is a huge bureaucracy, and it is not uncommon for individual cases to get lost in the shuffle. While USCIS has been working on backlog reduction, many people still spend years waiting for a decision from USCIS, as well as other government agencies. Numerous follow-ups and inquiries rarely produce any results. And to be honest, calling your congressman can only do so much. When your case gets stuck on a shelf at the USCIS field office or service center, or when your case is lost or filed away in archives, it can seem like a hopeless situation. But it doesn’t have to be.
Under the Administrative Procedures Act (or APA), the federal government and all of its agencies and officers have a legal duty to act on the matters or cases that come before them in a “reasonable time” if no particular time frame is defined in the laws or regulations. When they fail to do so, you can sue them in federal court for a writ of mandamus or an APA action.
This lawsuit requests the federal district court to produce an order from a judge directing the agency to take an action on the case (for example, within 30 days of the order). The filing of such a suit usually causes the agency to act, in order to avoid having to defend a lawsuit and risk having a court order against it. When facing a mandamus suit, USCIS officers usually finds a way to make a quick decision on the case if they do not think they can defend their position in court. If the agency loses, they could risk paying your attorney fees back, so they have a lot to lose.
What qualifies as a “reasonable time” or put another way, what counts as an “unreasonable delay” may differ from case to case. When you decide to hire an immigration lawyer to look into your case, make sure you retain someone who has a proven track record in filing Mandamus law suits or APA law suits.
Weinstock Immigration Lawyers is one of only a few immigration law firms in Atlanta that is experienced in filing mandamus law suits and APA actions against USCIS and other immigration agencies. We work on your behalf to compel the USCIS to make a decision on your long awaited case. Our firm has filed dozens of these law suits over the years, and we can often obtain results in two to three months for cases that have been pending for years without action. If your case has been pending for substantially longer than the government’s normal processing times, call our office today to discuss how we can help get your case resolved quickly.