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It’s hard for most people outside of the immigration space to imagine filling out an application, providing everything asked for, paying a fee, maybe sitting for interview and then having to wait years for the application to be decided. But this is all too common for some categories of immigration and visa applications where the government is happy to accept steep application fees and then simply not adjudicate the application without explanation or accountability. In the meantime, these delays cause families to be separated, marriages to be delayed, businesses to lose the service of key employees and lives to be put on hold in countless ways. The damage and stress caused by these delays are real.
For instances like these – when “justice delayed is justice denied” – a seasoned federal litigator’s toolbox may hold the answer. In it, you’ll find the Writ of Mandamus and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Using these tools well can, almost immediately, take your application out of the bureaucratic red tape and assign it to a smart and unbiased individual (i.e., a federal judge) with the authority to force the government to do what they are obligated to do – decide your case. While the court cannot force an approval, it can compel the government to finally make a decision and allow your client to make plans and move on.
As the delays keep coming, federal litigation is becoming a more essential component of helping clients with their immigration needs. We realize that many immigration attorneys do not regularly litigate in federal court. So to help our colleagues assess whether a lawsuit makes sense for their clients, we are going to post a series of short articles to help clarify the procedure, applicable law, and benefits/drawbacks of federal litigation for delayed immigration and visa applications. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact me anytime to discuss. I look forward to the dialogue.