The HMA Law FirM


Writs of Mandamus – Tips and Tools for Clients

Previously, we discussed the nature of [[writs of mandamus]] – lawsuits that can be used to get a stuck immigration case moving again. If you’re thinking of bringing a mandamus action, here are some key pointers to keep in mind. Not all immigration cases are good fits for writs of mandamus, but for those that are suitable, it can be an extraordinarily powerful tool for finally getting a positive result after months or years of government inaction.

Do not be afraid of “suing the government.” 

Think of suing as “demanding your rights” or “insisting that the agency do its job.”

Do not make a decision to sue solely based on frustration or impatience. You will lose.

Talk to your lawyer. Do not hide anything. 

Everything you tell your lawyer is protected by attorney-client privilege and cannot be shared by the attorney to anyone else. If you do not tell your lawyer the whole story, they will not be able to help you.

Find a different lawyer

If your lawyer doesn’t seem interested in going through your entire immigration history, find a different lawyer. Writs of mandamus depend very strongly on the individual circumstances and details in a given case; if someone’s not willing to go through and check all the details, they won’t have a good picture of what’s happened so far…and won’t be able to make the best legal arguments for why you need mandamus relief.

List all the equities in your case 

All the particular reasons why the government’s delay is hurting you. What makes your wait unbearable?

Where you come from can make a difference. 

People from Muslim countries are frequent victims of the CARRP program. Nationals of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) also experience higher than normal scrutiny and delays on applications for green cards (I-485) and citizenship (N-400).

Do not file a writ of mandamus by yourself. 

At the very least, consult with an attorney beforehand.

Each case requires individualized attention

Do not copy and paste various writs of mandamus “samples” that are available on the internet. Each case requires individualized attention based on the location it is being filed in and the circumstances of the case.

Some jurisdictions are more favorable to mandamus cases than others! 

Make sure you and your attorney have reviewed the latest writ of mandamus cases in your jurisdiction, to see how courts are treating them.

Do not expect quick results

Mandamus is not necessarily a “quick fix,” so do not expect quick results. Getting the wheels to start turning may not be the beginning of the end – only the end of the beginning.

Start creating a paper trail showing your process of seeking assistance. 

If the time comes that you do need to file a writ of mandamus, you will have to show “exhaustion of administrative remedies.” This means you have to show the judge that you tried to resolve this issue in many different ways before you came to court. So every time you contact USCIS to follow up on your case, make sure you get something in writing or email. Keep copies of all letters you send, and send them by certified mail, return receipt requested. If enough time passes, enlist the help of your local US Congressman, or the USCIS Ombudsman’s Office. When you make an InfoPass appointment, keep another copy of the appointment sheet. This lets you show the court that you’ve been diligent about keeping up your end, and that you’ve tried going through the USCIS process.

Make a timeline. 

When you’re meeting with your attorney, try to give them a timeline showing what you filed, when you filed it, and what responses the government has sent. Whenever possible, try to include documents or emails that support each step of the timeline. The more detailed a timeline you can provide to your lawyer, the sooner they’ll be able to organize and put together the individualized details needed for your case.