Recently a client came into our office distraught and asking why his asylum case was taking so long? He had fled his country because ISIS terrorists were threatening to kill him due to their religious and political beliefs. He came to the US and hired an immigration attorney who helped him file for asylum. He received the receipt that their asylum case was filed but then didn’t hear anything. He waited and waited. Occasionally he followed up with his attorney. He would inform him everything was fine, cases are currently delayed and there is nothing to worry about but he couldn’t help worrying that something was done incorrectly. He scheduled an infopass appointment and was given the run around by immigration. He even had the local Congressman do a Congressional inquiry but received no response.
The delay had completely stressed him out. He was having trouble with his employer because the delays caused problems with his work permit. In addition, he had family in his country who were in increased danger and he needed to get a legal status so they could petition for them. Ultimately, the delay caused a rift with his attorney because the attorney kept saying there was nothing they could do but the client wanted something to be done. The attorney got upset with the constant phone calls and the client didn’t trust the attorney had filed everything correctly.
When the client came into our office and explained the situation within 15 minutes we knew we would need to file a writ of mandamus in Federal Court to push immigration to process their asylum case.
We informed the client that a writ of mandamus forces a federal judge to look at the asylum case and order immigration to take some action on the application (in this case to hold the delayed interview). The client was worried whether immigration would view this negatively. He was concerned immigration would hold it against him that he stood up for his rights by filing the mandamus.
We informed the client that just the opposite, if immigration gives him any problem, we can immediately amend the complaint and hold them responsible for violating their behavior. In general, immigration is much more likely to follow the rules when a mandamus is filed because a federal judge is overseeing the process. It makes sense, most people would be more careful at their job if a federal judge was overseeing their work. The judge could cause the immigration officer immense problems with his supervisor or order fines and sanctions.
The client agreed that the writ of mandamus was the path forward in their case. Our firm immediately went to work drafting the documents, filing them in Federal Court, and serving them on the government. After being served, by law the government has 60 days to respond with their answer. Around day 45 a US attorney called our office and said they would be emailing us and mailing the client the date and time his interview was scheduled for. We thanked the US attorney and informed him that we would keep the case open until a decision was reached, so as to assure that immigration does not hold the interview but then delay the decision.
The client went to his interview and within two weeks his case was approved. Mysteriously an issue he was having with a delayed work permit was also corrected. The client is now working at a good company and is petitioning for his family to enter the US. He will soon file for his green card and then, if he wishes for citizenship.
In our firm’s experience the mandamus forces immigration to give applicants the VIP treatment. Our mandamus clients go to the front of the line and are treated with priority because the immigration officer knows a Federal Judge is overseeing the case. The above-mentioned client is the perfect example, he was waiting two years for his interview, had scheduled multiple infopass appointments and was getting the run around from everyone he spoke to. Then within two months of our filing the mandamus he had his interview scheduled and within two weeks of his interview his case was approved.