Addressing Delayed or Stuck Cases, and Expedited Processing
Individuals and businesses dealing with immigration or visas are often frustrated by long waits, delays, and backlogs. Processing times are posted by USCIS, and the State Department gives a backlog estimate by listing the filing dates of applications within various family- and employment-based visa categories currently being processed in its monthly visa bulletin.
Often, however, we have become aware of delays due to errors, confusion, or failure on the part of the government to act. Many clients have approached us when their cases simply seem to be “stuck.” We are also often approached when an unforeseen circumstance requires that a case be expedited.
While each case is different, we have developed various strategies for addressing both sets of circumstances. Depending upon the individual situation, we may utilize one or more of the following:
Ombudsman and Liaison Inquiries: As members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition, we have access to liaisons who work directly with USCIS district offices, USCIS service centers, Immigration courts, and consular posts. We call on our liaisons to inquire into your case and obtain the necessary information to avoid and address delays. We also occasionally attend meetings with officials from USCIS, ICE, and other government offices to address problems.
Congressional Requests: We also work with Congressional representatives to express their interest in client applications when appropriate. Our office will help you contact your representative’s constituent services staff, explain legal issues, and provide necessary documentation to authorize the office to contact the Department of State, Homeland Security, or Labor as appropriate.
Expediting: We may be able to have certain processes expedited by documenting humanitarian factors, severe loss of income, or other reasons demonstrating that expedited handling is warranted.
Filing suit against (“Suing”) the government: At times, it may be necessary to bring a lawsuit in order to force the government to act. After thoroughly analyzing the potential risks and benefits of this strategy, we may file “mandamus” or “1447(b)” actions in Federal District Court against the Secretary of Homeland Security, U.S. Attorney General, and other high officials. Often, when USCIS sees that a lawsuit has been or is about to be filed, they issue a decision on a case that has been unreasonably delayed.
Media: In certain cases, it may be appropriate to generate public pressure on officials by publicizing a petition or contacting the press.
Every person’s situation is different, and putting pressure on USCIS may have risks as well as benefits. We would be happy to discuss your situation with you, and give you our honest assessment.
Problems we have addressed successfully include:
Marriage-based “green card” never issued
A young couple had filed all of the necessary paperwork for the U.S. citizen husband to sponsor his Latin American wife forLawful Permanent Residence. They went to the interview, and even got a letter congratulating the wife on her new status as a Lawful Permanent Resident. But the card never arrived. After about a year with no idea what went wrong, and no green card, they hired us. We learned that the file had erroneously been sent to a storage facility in Missouri. We successfully got it removed from storage so that processing could be completed, and the green card was issued.
A European woman applied to naturalize. However, her case was put on hold for many years, because the FBI had not completed a background check despite a law stating that naturalization cases should be decided within 120 days of the interview. As a scientist, the applicant was not able to work on certain projects or apply for certain grants until she became a U.S. citizen. She hired us to sue the government on her behalf through a “1447(b)” action. We began the process of filing suit against the government. Shortly thereafter, the client’s naturalization application was approved and she was issued an oath notice.
Asylum Case stuck due to erroneous “TRIG” (terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds” designation
An African husband and father applied for asylum after suffering horrible persecution. After four years, during which he made repeated inquiries, he still had not received a decision on his case, and his wife and children—still in Africa– had been forced to relocate for their safety. After speaking with him, we realized that the delay was almost certainly due to a “hold” on cases associated with a particular political group. The group was one of many identified as possibly engaging in terrorist activities. During his interview, the individual had explained that he had been falsely accused of being a member of the group, due to his ethnicity. We contacted the asylum office and headquarters to request that his case be removed from the stack of individuals associated with the group, and considered individually. His asylum case was granted within a short time, and his family is now in the U.S.
Delayed visa renewal for Minister
A church hired us to petition for a clergyman to lead the congregation on an “R-1” religious worker visa. The application was successful and the minister was hired by the church. The church sought to extend his contract and timely applied for an extension. However, USCIS took so long to renew the visa that the minister was at risk of falling out of status, and the church was at risk of losing their minister. We drafted a Mandamus Action to sue USCIS, and faxed it to high-up officials. We received several calls and emails. To our delight, the case was approved in less than a week, and we did not even have to file the lawsuit with the federal court.
Please note that every person’s situation is different, and putting pressure on USCIS has risks as well as benefits. Please schedule an appointment to discuss the particulars of your specific situation. It is never possible to guarantee the outcome of a legal matter.
To find processing times, click here.
The content of this website is meant only to acquaint you with general information about immigration.This information is not legal advice and is not a substitute for having a consultation with an attorney. If you have additional questions or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact us.