Delayed decision-making by immigration agencies is a recurring problem faced by immigration attorneys and their clients. The federal mandamus statute provides a remedy for unreasonable delays by allowing a federal district court judge to order the agency to make a decision within a specific period of time. Too often, attorneys for the government attempt to dismiss mandamus cases, arguing that the court has no jurisdiction. We have filed amicus briefs in cases pending in the courts of appeals with the goal of establishing binding precedent confirming the district courts’ jurisdiction over mandamus suits against USCIS. We argue that USCIS has a non-discretionary duty to decide an application (although not necessarily to approve it) and that, in cases in which there is unreasonable delay, district courts have jurisdiction under the mandamus statute to order the agency to carry out this duty in a timely fashion.
Safadi v. Atty. Gen. of the United States, No. 09-12123-JJ (11th Cir. amicus brief filed June 23, 2009) (case settled without a decision).
Poliakova v. Gonzalez, No. 08-13313-FF (11th Cir. amicus brief filed Aug. 18, 2008) (case settled without a decision).
Vorontsova v. Chertoff, No. 08-1052 (1st Cir. amicus brief filed July 16, 2008) (case settled without a decision).
Liu v. Mukasey, No. 07-3538, (7th Cir. amicus brief filed Jan. 18, 2008) (case settled without a decision).
Grinberg v. Swacina, No. 07-11594 (11th Cir. amicus brief filed Oct. 10, 2007) (case settled without a decision).
Li v. Gonzales, No. 07-2990 (3rd Cir. amicus brief filed Sept. 7, 2007) (case settled without a decision).
LAC Litigation Issue Page: Mandamus.
LAC Practice Advisory: Mandamus Litigation Against DOL to Address Delays in Prevailing Wage Determinations and Labor Certifications (August 18, 2011). This practice advisory by Kristen Harris, Megan Kludt and Mary Kenney includes basic information about mandamus actions against DOL for delays in issuing prevailing wage determinations or in deciding labor certifications.
LAC Practice Advisory: Mandamus Jurisdiction over Delayed Applications: Responding to the Government's Motion to Dismiss (Aug. 30, 2010). This Practice Advisory outlines in summary form arguments to make in response to the government's motion to dismiss a mandamus or Administrative Procedure Act case brought to remedy the delayed adjudication of an application for immigration benefits, including adjustment of status.
LAC Practice Advisory: Mandamus Actions: Avoiding Dismissal and Proving the Case (Aug. 6, 2009). This Practice Advisory provides basic information about filing immigration-related mandamus actions in federal district court. It discusses the required elements of a successful mandamus action as well as the jurisdictional concerns that sometimes arise.