marc Schifanelli, Esq.
Contact US (240) 882-2402
Contact Schifanelli Law, LLP at 410-263-0028 for an initial consultation with a Lawyer in Annapolis.
2450 Riva Road, Suite 201, Annapolis, Maryland 21401.
Serving the Maryland and Washington D.C. Communities.
Almost every application for an immigration benefit, like a Naturalization petition to become a U.S. Citizen, or a petition to become a Lawful Permanent Resident, has an application fee. You pay that fee to the U.S. Government's Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for just that: "service!" Your payment is meant to cover the costs for a service that the Government provides, i.e. reviewing and (hopefully) approving your immigration application so that you can get on with the business of life.
For sure, the Government receives thousands of all types of immigration applications per year. Chances that they will get to it right away are pretty slim. To keep the public informed, USCIS publishes "processing times" that can help you estimate how long your petition may take. Most applications don't have statutorily mandated processing time limits associated with them: you have to give USCIS a "reasonable" amount of time. However, other applications do have time periods imposed by law. An application for Citizenship is one of them.
So what happens when the statutory time limit, or a reasonable amount of time passes, and it appears that USCIS is not going to make a decision on your immigration application? At Schifanelli Law, LLP, we call such government inaction a breach of contract - you fulfilled your part of the bargain by paying their fee, but they have not fulfilled theirs.
Suing the government under a breach of contract theory, however, probably won't get you too far. Fortunately, the Federal Laws provide a cause of action that can help: petitioning a Federal Judge to issue a Writ of Mandamus pursuant to the "Administrative Procedures Act" (5 U.S.C. §701) - an order demanding that the U.S. Government fulfill its part of the bargain and adjudicate your petition.
Writs of Mandamus usually serve their purpose by putting the Government on notice. Once the suit is filed, the government will appoint an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) to represent USCIS. Once that attorney is identified, our immigration lawyers can begin to really investigate and hopefully resolve the issue of why your petition has not been acted upon. Most cases are resolved within weeks or months.
Keep in mind that a Writ of Mandamus will likely get some decision from the Government on your application, but it might not be the one you were looking for. A Writ of Mandamus compels a government adjudication on your application, but the Courts and the Judge cannot mandate that USCIS approve it; only that it make some decision one way or the other. Prior to filing a Writ of Mandamus in the Federal Court, the immigration attorneys at Schifanelli Law, LLP will review your entire immigration file to anticipate a negative decision and, if applicable, help you to prepare for administrative appeal or other option in the case of a denial.