Applying for legal permanent residency (LPR) is extremely time-consuming, and delays only seem to get longer and longer every year. This process requires extensive documentation that must be approved by the U.S. State Department or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Several years might pass between filing the initial application and receiving your Green Card. Similarly, naturalization applications often take several years from the date of application until the USCIS confirms the applicant’s citizenship.

However, sometimes a delay is unexplained and unreasonable. Significant time might pass with no movement on your application. In such cases, you could take the government agency to court.

A seasoned attorney is here to walk you through the immigration delay litigation process in Boston. This legal procedure motivates the agency to make progress on an application so that you can receive a timelier decision in your case. Contact our firm today to discuss your situation with a committed legal advocate.

When to Consider Litigation

Although immigration processing is slow, applicants can track their application’s progress. When the USCIS online system shows that your application is pending, or under administrative review for a significant time, you should consider following up.

Sometimes an email or phone call from your attorney is enough to get the application moving again. Adept immigration attorneys may have other resources as well, including liaisons through AILA (the American Immigration Lawyer Association), that can help unstuck difficult cases. However, if the USCIS has no explanation or is unresponsive, and the application continues to be in limbo, it might be time to discuss the immigration delay litigation process with a Boston attorney.

The Federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA) requires federal government agencies to make decisions within reasonable timeframes. When the agency fails to do so, and you suffer hardships due to the unreasonable delay, you could sue the agency to compel them to act. This procedure is called seeking a Writ of Mandamus, or often just “Mandamus.”

Procedure for Bringing a Mandamus Action

When bringing a Mandamus action, your attorney files a complaint in Federal District Court asking the Judge to force a federal agency to make a decision. The complaint usually names the USCIS, but the State Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, or Department of Labor could be causing the delay. In this case, the attorney would name those agencies.

The agency has 60 days to respond to the complaint and present evidence demonstrating legitimate reasons for delaying the application. However, in most cases, the agency resumes work on the application during the 60 days. Therefore, you might have a decision before the agency has to file its answer to the complaint. In that case, you could withdraw the mandamus action.

Filing for a Writ of Mandamus prods the agency to move forward with application processing rather than wasting resources defending a lawsuit. If the agency files an answer defending the delay, the judge must decide if the circumstances justify the delay. If not, the judge could direct the agency to respond within a specific time. To learn more about Mandamus actions, contact a Boston attorney that has experience with the immigration delay litigation process.

“We recommend that applicants remember that an APA action or a writ of mandamus is asking the Court to force the agency to make a decision, not that you’re asking the Court to force the agency to say ‘yes.’ Not every case will get a positive response from filing a writ of mandamus. But by the time an applicant is ready to bring this type of action, just getting a straight answer from USCIS is often worth the trouble.” Jamie Gorton, Managing Attorney

Results of a Mandamus Action

In many cases, a Mandamus action results in an application moving forward. If the agency presents a reason justifying the delay, you at least gain some information about your status and can try to address any concerns.

While a federal judge can force an agency to decide on a delayed immigration application within a specified timeframe, the judge cannot tell the agency what decision to make. The agency could approve an application, reject it, or request more information.

Some applicants are reluctant to file a lawsuit against USCIS or another government agency because they fear retaliation. An agency will not retaliate against applicants who seek a decision within a reasonable time and will not punish applicants because they had no other choice but to bring a lawsuit.

Learn More About the Immigration Delay Litigation Process in Boston Today

When you have gone months without seeing any movement on your immigration or citizenship application, consider speaking with an attorney admitted to appear before the U.S. District Court in the state where you live. Our Boston clients rely on the District of Massachusetts courthouse located in downtown Boston, at the Moakley Courthouse in the Seaport. If phone calls, emails, and customer service complaints to USCIS do not produce results, going to court might be the most effective option.

The immigration delay litigation process in Boston could spur the USCIS to get to work on your application. Contact our firm today to discuss your situation.