RESOLVING DELAYS IN IMMIGRATION CASES: UNDERSTANDING USCIS MANDAMUS

USCIS processing times have improved significantly since the depths of the pandemic in 2020 through 2022. However, many case types and many individual cases are taking unexpectedly long for USCIS to make decisions and even to respond to requests for updates or expedites. Sometimes, we cannot get USCIS to speed up its pace without threatening to file, and sometimes actually filing, a federal lawsuit against USCIS. This lawsuit is called a “Writ of Mandamus” and it asks a federal judge to order USCIS to make a decision on a long-pending USCIS case. 

Writ of Mandamus:

Mandamus, derived from Latin, meaning “we command,” is a legal mechanism used to compel an employee, officer, or agency of the United States, such as USCIS, to act. In immigration law, a Writ of Mandamus serves as a tool for applicants to assert their rights and prompt USCIS to make a decision on their case.

Writ of Mandamus in Immigration Cases:

A Writ of Mandamus addresses situations where USCIS has unreasonably delayed a case, preventing an approval or denial of the case. Here at Cambridge Immigration Law we make sure our clients know that we are requesting a decision on a case, not an approval on a case. If a case is weak, filing a writ of mandamus may not be the client’s best strategy. However, there are clients who want any decision, even if there is a good chance there will be a denial. A denial opens the opportunity for an appeal, or for some people, puts closure on their quest for an immigration benefit. 

Requirements for Writ of Mandamus:

Certain requirements must be met for a Writ of Mandamus. We prove that USCIS has a clear duty to decide a case, that USCIS owes that decision to our client, and that there is nothing else that we can do to try to push USCIS to make a decision. Importantly, we must prove that the delay is unreasonable.  

Determining Unreasonable Delay:

The Administrative Procedures Act mandates that agencies like USCIS complete tasks within a reasonable time frame. If an applicant’s case falls outside the standard processing time, filing a Writ of Mandamus may be a viable option to prompt USCIS to render a decision. Often, the mere filing of the lawsuit prompts USCIS to take action on the case. Also, a threat of filing a writ of mandamus often pushes a decision. 

USCIS Mandamus offers a legal avenue for individuals experiencing delays in their immigration cases. Seeking relief through this remedy requires careful consideration of requirements, determination of unreasonable delay, and legal representation to navigate the process effectively. Consult with our experienced team so that we can get a decision for you on your long-pending USCIS case.