Category: Immigration Delay Litigation

Can a writ of mandamus help in delayed asylum cases

 

Can a writ of mandamus lawsuit work for people who have delayed asylum cases? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of office here in St. Louis, Missouri. You know one of our favorite things to do here at the Hacking Law Practice is to file lawsuits on behalf of immigrants who’ve been waiting too long for immigration benefits. Typically, we do that in the citizenship context, so probably over a hundred people have benefited from working with us to file lawsuits on their behalf against the USCIS. The way it works is you file a lawsuit, you ask a federal judge who doesn’t work for the immigration service, who’s appointed for life and who is not part of the executive branch, to compel the immigration service to decide a case.

We’ve had people who’ve been waiting for their citizenship for one, two, three, four, five, even nine years benefit from us filing a lawsuit. When you file a lawsuit, it generally requires the USCIS to take the case off the shelf. For some reason, they’ve taken people’s cases and put them up on the shelf, and the lawsuit makes them explain the source of the delay. When delays have gone on for a really, really long time, the agency usually does not want to fight. They just want to move the case forward. We oftentimes get positive movement on the cases, oftentimes scheduling an interview or scheduling an oath ceremony.
We’ve always known that it works in the citizenship context. We’ve also had success, which you can learn about on other videos, when it comes to green card delays. We even had success suing the State Department for delays in processing immigrant visas for the spouses of US citizens. The one thing we’ve never done before is file a mandamus action for someone who had been waiting for asylum. One of the reasons we were reluctant to do that is we weren’t entirely sure, given the fact that the immigration service and the asylum office has so much discretion in granting or denying asylum, we were reluctant to file a lawsuit on the asylum front. We weren’t sure if it was going to work.

About six months ago, we were hired by a very nice couple from Syria who happen to live in Michigan. They had filed for asylum in December of 2012. They had their interview just a few months later, which is unusual, but it does happen. Sometimes, randomly, certain asylum cases get assigned very quickly to an interview. Their interview happened literally six weeks after they filed. The interview was in January of 2013, and at the time that they hired us in October of 2016, they had been waiting for three and a half years for their decision. They had done everything they could do to try to get help. They had contacted the CIA ombudsman. They had contacted their senators and representatives in Michigan, and they had made numerous InfoPass appointments, and they just couldn’t get any movement.

One thing to keep in mind is this couple had hired the largest immigration law firm in the country. If I told you their name, you’d have heard of them. They have offices around the country and around the world. I think generally they specialize more in business immigration, and while they did take this asylum case, when I reviewed the paperwork that had been filed, I didn’t think they had done a very job. Specifically, what I complained about was the fact that the statement that was submitted in support of the asylum application was all over the map. It wasn’t very focused. It left a lot of things wide open and a lot of issues for inquiry by the asylum officer.

I talked to my client about how the initial interview had gone. He said that it had gone very well, that the officer had talked to them for about an hour, which is also unusual, and that the asylum case, he was told by the officer, would be approved in a couple of months. None of that made real sense. Nonetheless, we decided to file a lawsuit. We filed suit in Chicago, because that’s where our client’s asylum case was pending. We filed it in federal court. We served copies on the defendants, and pretty quickly, he got rescheduled for another interview. That was last January. I attended the interview with my clients. It was a long day. My client had a lot to say, and they had a lot of ground to cover. They were revisiting and reissuing focus on the case and the questions that had been answered back in 2013, and they wanted to make sure that my client had not supported any kind of groups that the United States was worried about in Syria.
When the interview was over, we thought that we had done a good job and that we would be getting a decision shortly.

It turns out that we had to wait a little bit longer. Now, the defendants had a certain amount of time to answer the lawsuit. Typically, it’s 60 days, but because they were working with us, we had given them some extensions and were coming up against a new deadline. I got a call from the US attorney who was defending the lawsuit to tell me that, lo and behold, the immigration service, the asylum office, wanted to interview our client one more time. Now, I took this as a good sign, because I figured if they wanted to deny the case, they wouldn’t call us back in for another interview, but that’s in fact what they did. This week, we went up to Chicago and had a third interview on the asylum case. It was relatively quick, but it was about an hour long.

One thing the attorney had told me when he called was that he was willing to promise that we would leave the asylum office that day with a decision. It was a very stressful day for my client and for me. We went through that hour-long third interview, and then they asked us to wait so they could talk to the supervisor. They had a few more questions after that, and then we had to wait a few hours while they issued their decision. We spent that time pacing back and forth in the asylum office. It was back like when I had trial work, and I was waiting on a jury. I really wasn’t sure which way it was going to go. The officer didn’t want to come out and see us herself. She had the lady at the front window give us the decision, so we’re sitting there waiting for the decision. It was very suspenseful. I was very worried.

The decision was sitting across from us. I couldn’t tell what it said. I was pretty sure that it was going to be a denial, but the agent happily told us that our client had been approved. His long four-and-a-half year wait for asylum had been granted, that he’d been granted a parole into the United States, and that he was going to be treated as an asylee, that a year from now, he can apply for a green card, and then five years after that, he can apply for citizenship. This happened on a day that there was a horrible gas attack in Syria, so it only led more importance and significance to the victory. We were very, very excited for our client and his wife and his two lovely US citizen daughters. They’re not going to have to go back to Syria or to leave the United States. It was quite a victory, and we’re really happy for our clients.

Lesson learned. If an asylum case has been pending for a really, really long time … It’s not going to work in every case, and I would say a delay of two or three or four years is sort of the minimum before we file a lawsuit, but to know that the immigration service, the asylum office, and the US attorneys will work with us on asylum cases is a very valuable lesson.

If you have experienced delay in any kind of immigration case, whether it’s citizenship, green cards, visas, anything, make sure to give us a call at the Hacking Law Practice, 314-961-8200. You can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. If you like this video, be sure to click the subscribe button below. Give us a like and a shout out on social media. We’d really appreciate it. It’s a big help. If you have questions that you want us to cover, just feel free to email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com, and we’ll try to shoot a video for you. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

 

Lawsuit Pays Off For Detroit Green Card Holder

This is our client, Bhavin.

Bhavin was born in India and came to the U.S. to study.

He is an engineer and works for Ford Motor Company. Bhavin lives near Detroit, Michigan.

Bhavin obtained lawful permanent resident status many years ago through his family.

In the summer of 2015, Bhavin filed an N-400 naturalization application with USCIS.

He underwent fingerprinting and biometrics at the Detroit USCIS Application Support Center.

Then he waited for his interview.

And waited. And waited. And waited some more.

He did everything that he could do to follow up with USCIS to see why his case had been delayed.

No one would give him a straight answer.

Bhavin went to InfoPass appointments at USCIS. That didn’t work.

Bhavin asked for members of Congress to help. That didn’t work, either.

Bhavin asked for the USCIS Ombudsman, who is supposed to be the consumer advocate at USCIS to intervene. Still that didn’t work.

Frustrated, Bhavin did not know what to do.

After waiting over 15 months and running out options, he took to the internet.

He found a forum on a website called Trackitt. This website allows people with similar problems to talk about them online and to post about possible solutions.

Bhavin found some references to a crazy immigration law firm in St. Louis that helps people whose immigration cases have been unfairly delayed.

He scheduled a Skype consultation with attorney Jim Hacking of our office.

Bhavin decided to sue USCIS after meeting with Mr. Hacking.

That was six weeks ago.

Today, Bhavin had his naturalization interview at the Detroit field office of USCIS.

The interview lasted about 30 minutes. Mr. Hacking flew in from St. Louis for the interview.

Everything went well and Bhavin was approved on the spot.

His oath ceremony is scheduled for one week from now.

Congratulations, Bhavin!

What Happens After You File a Lawsuit Against USCIS

What happens after you file a law suit against the Immigration Service for delaying your case? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.

We get this question a lot. A lot of people are sometimes on the fence about whether or not to sue USCIS, and the FBI, and other agencies regarding delays in their immigration cases, and we wanted to shoot this video to explain to you what happens, what the process is like.

In our office, we have filed probably 60 or 70 of these cases at the present time, and we have a pretty good system for getting them out. What we do is we craft the complaint to set out the facts of your case to explain why your immigration case has been taking so long, and, most importantly, all the efforts that you’ve made to try to get the case decided without filing a law suit. We list those kinds of things that people do, like file info pass appointments, calling their Congress person or their Senator, calling the USCIS ombudsman, all the different things that you can do to try to make your case go faster. Usually those don’t work and they’re left with having to decide whether or not to file a law suit.

We draft the complaint, because you want the court to know that you’ve made good efforts to try to get your case decided. Some people wonder, “How long is a wait too long? When should I start thinking about filing a law suit,” and we generally recommend that you don’t file a Mandamas Action or a delay action under the Administrative Procedures Act until about a year has gone by. It usually takes us a couple days to put the law suit together, and then we file it in federal court.

The filing fee in federal court right now is $400. That’s always subject to change, but it’s $400 to get the law suit on file, and after we file the law suit, we file it electronically, and the good thing about federal law is that we can generally file it anywhere around the country, but lately we’ve been filing them in Washington, DC. The DC court has more experience in handling these cases. The US Attorneys up there are more easy to deal with, easier to deal with, and we generally have a good experience so far with the DC District Court.

After the law suit is on file, the court issues what are called summons, and a summons is a notice to a defendant that they’ve been sued. Typically in our cases, we sue the US Department of Homeland Security, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the heads of those agencies as well as the head of the FBI, and the FBI itself for delays in processing mostly citizenship cases, but, also, green card and VISA type cases.

The defendants might change, depending on what kind of case we have, but the process after that is pretty much the same. After the court issues summons and have them signed by the clerk of court, we then attach that to the summons and a copy of the law suit, and we send it by certified mail to the defendants. It usually takes them about ten days or two weeks to get the law suits, and then, at that point, the defendants have 60 days to file their response. In most instances, the government does not respond much until towards the end of those 60 days.

If you serve them let’s say on March 1st, then you’re generally going to hear something from them about the end of April, and usually what they do is they tell you what their plan is, but that is what gets the ball rolling, because, at that point, there’s now an Assistant US Attorney or Department of Justice attorney who is going to have to defend that law suit, and typically what they do is they contact their people at USCIS and Homeland Security, and they figure out what’s going on with the case. They figure out if they want to fight or if they want to just proceed with the case. It usually involves them scheduling someone for an interview, and then the case is really underway.

That’s the process from start to finish, from the time that you hire us and we draft the complaint and we file the law suit, and then typically there’s then another interview or an original interview, and then the case is handled the same.

The law suits are really effective to getting movement on your cases. If you have a case that’s been delayed, if you want to know about how the process works and are thinking about getting started with suing Immigration Service yourself in federal court, make sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can email us at info@HackingLawPractice.com.

We hope you like this video. If you did, make sure that you leave us a comment or review, and then make sure that you subscribe to our YouTube channel or join our Facebook group, so that we can keep you posted as to any new videos that we submit.

Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

Does Mandamus Only Work in Delayed Citizenship Cases?

Do mandamus lost its only work and citizenship cases?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis Missouri. We’ve had a lot of success in suing the federal government, USCIS, and the Department of Homeland Security when our clients’ naturalization cases have taken too long.

The law says that if you’ve had your naturalization interview and 120 days have gone by, that you can go into federal court and ask a federal judge who doesn’t work for the immigration service to order the immigration service to decide your case, or the judge can decide on his or her own initiative whether or not you get to become a citizen.

The immigration service doesn’t like it when you sue them and they don’t like the idea that a federal judge will take their job from them. When you file a lawsuit, typically what happens in most cases is, they decide to decide the case. The case gets moving and cases that have been waiting for two, three, or four years can finally get resolved. That law, regarding the 120 days, is pretty black letter and the immigration service doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room. One of the tricks they try is they don’t schedule the interview right away.

Sometimes we’re filing lawsuits for naturalization applicants who have never had their interview because that doesn’t start that 120 day clock and that’s why they do it. We have had success in getting those cases moving. They’re not as highly successful as the ones where there’s been an actual interview, but we’ve probably filed suit on behalf of about 70 people who’ve been waiting for citizenship and the lawsuits generally work. They don’t work in every case, but they work in most cases. We wondered whether or not we’d be able to file these kinds of lawsuits and other cases in the immigration context, cases in which the naturalization was not an issue, but rather someone could get a green card.

One day a young man came to see me and he had filed his own mandamus against the immigration service because his green card case had been pending too long. They hadn’t scheduled him for an interview and his case had been pending for two years. He and his wife were getting frustrated that every time they went down to the immigration office that they couldn’t get any answers. He figured out how to draft a lawsuit and filed it on his own in federal court. We don’t recommend this.

Filing a mandamus action is actually pretty tricky, and the government was starting to play games with him, trying to change venue and filing a motion to dismiss and all these things. We wanted to see what would happen and we took this case. It turns out that the lawsuit worked almost the exact same way in the green card context as it did in the citizenship context. Since that time, we’ve probably filed 10 green card delay lawsuits and we’ve had a lot of good success with that.

Then one day a lady came to see me and she was wondering about her husband’s visa case. He was from Pakistan and his case had been pending for two years. We told her that she should sue them. She was sort of skittish and worried about suing them, so she didn’t do it. A year later she came back and now she’d been waiting three years. We told her, “You should sue the state department”. We had done some research and figured out that you could, in fact, sue the state department in federal court in the United States for a delay at an embassy overseas.

She was still skittish and still scared, so she decided not to do it. The fourth year she came back and she said, “Okay Jim, let’s go ahead and sue”. We filed the lawsuit and within 90 days after filing the lawsuit, her husband was in the United States with an approved visa. This was remarkable and it only happened because we filed the lawsuit. Now we know, and we have filed subsequently more lawsuits against the state department for delays in the issuance of a visa.

Last month, we filed a lawsuit over a four year delay on an asylum case. We’re very interested to see how this case works. It’s a lawsuit against a Chicago asylum office where a man has been waiting for four years for his asylum case to be approved. These are the kinds of things that you can do with a mandamus lawsuit. Not every immigration lawyer is familiar with the rules of federal court and filing lawsuits. I had been a litigator for 10 years before I started practicing immigration law, so I feel very comfortable in federal court, in the procedures, and the filing requirements, all those things.

We’re going to file a new lawsuit today over in Ohio. We’re excited about that, for a young man who’s been waiting for citizenship for two and a half years. These lawsuits work. They don’t work every time, but they work in a lot of the situations.

If you’ve been experiencing some kind of immigration delay, make sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can also e-mail us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. We hope you like this video, that you found it instructive.

If you have any questions about it, make sure to reach out to us. Make sure also, please to like this video down below. If you want to subscribe to our Youtube and Facebook channels, that would be great. You’ll get updates whenever we upload a new video.

After 2 Year Wait, Man Becomes Citizen Following Our Lawsuit

This is our client, Dr. Adeel. He lives in Alabama. He is a physician who has spent years serving our wounded and elderly military at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Birmingham.

Dr. Adeel became a lawful permanent resident in November of 2010. He waited four years and nine months and applied for naturalization with USCIS in September of 2010 (LPRs can apply 3 months early to become a citizen).

He was fingerprinted and then nothing happened on his case. The doctor waited months and months for an interview. USCIS refused to schedule him for an interview. The VA hospital tried to intervene on his behalf, but USCIS ignored them. The agency also ignored congressional liaisons who reached out to USCIS on Dr. Adeel‘s behalf. Nothing worked.

Dr. Adeel contacted us in early June of 2016 and asked for our help. We suspected that USCIS was unlawfully delaying his case because of his religion (Islam) and his ethnicity (Pakistan). We filed suit in the Northern District of Georgia on his behalf, challenging the unlawful delay.

The lawsuit challenged the so-called Controlled Application Review & Resolution Program, a formerly-secret government program designed to slow down immigration by Muslims to the United States.  We sought a judicial declaration that the CARRP program was illegal and an order to compel USCIS to decide Dr. Adeel’s case.

The government’s answer to the lawsuit was due on August 8, 2016. On July 28th, the agency notified us that they wanted to interview Dr. Adeel on August 2nd in Atlanta.

We informed Dr. Adeel who was very happy. He passed his civics test and was approved for naturalization. In fact, USCIS naturalized him on the spot. This after a wait approaching nearly 2 years!

A little over two months after he hired our office, he was a citizen.

Not every case works out like this one. However, we were certainly happy to bring his case to a positive resolution.

Congratulations to our newest citizen client, Dr. Adeel!

dr-adeel

Lawsuit Helps Man Get Naturalized After Three Years of Waiting

This spring, our office was hired by a young man from Bangladesh.  The man was living in Chicago, working for a Fortune 500 company.  Despite his corporate success, his naturalization case was being delayed by USCIS.  The man had waited over three years to swear his allegiance to the U.S., but he could not get any answers from USCIS.

The man hired our firm to file a lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois.  We sued the director of USCIS, the head of the Chicago field office and the Attorney General of the United States.  The lawsuit was a “mandamus” action and sought a judicial order compelling the agency to decide our client’s long-pending case.

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The case had apparently been delayed due to military service that the man had performed back home in Bangladesh.  After we had the defendants served with a copy of the lawsuit, USCIS in Chicago quickly scheduled him for a re-interview to discuss the military issue.

We are happy to report that late last week, our client became a naturalized U.S. citizen.  After waiting more than three years and many efforts to get action his case, the lawsuit we filed for him did, in fact, compel the agency to finally decide the case.

Can you speed up your delayed Missouri or Illinois immigration case?

It is not supposed to be like this. After all, your tax dollars pay the salaries of the people running the immigration service, USCIS. Immigration officers are paid to adjudicate cases and regulations require them to do so in a timely and efficient manner. Instead, when trying to get information on the status of your case, all you get is (a) delay, (b) no explanation, (c) the runaround or (d) all of the above.

Some cases go very smoothly at USCIS, but those are the easy ones. What about the thousands of people who wait month after month, or year after year, to get some answers on their application for lawful permanent resident status (“green card”) or naturalization (“citizenship”)? Certainly sitting around and doing nothing is not an option. But what real options are out there for someone in your situation?

Here are some ways that people try to get their immigration case moving:

  • Check status of their case online. USCIS remains a very paper-heavy organization and their online presence is not very satisfactory. While USCIS says that you can check status of a case by clicking here, the answers provided usually tell you nothing new and simply restate the last date of contact that you had with the agency.
  • Call the USCIS 1-800 number ((800) 375-5283). These calls can be a complete waste of time. Frequently, the USCIS operator reads to you the information that you already read yourself on the USCIS website. The only thing these calls do is get you frustrated for hanging on the line for minutes or hours. You may get a reply letter from USCIS, but this letter usually states the fact that you called USCIS on the day that you called them. But of course you already knew that. The letter frequently asks you to give USCIS another 60 or 90 days before contacting them again.
  • InfoPass. As you probably know, you can no longer simply show up at the USCIS office at a time that works for you. Instead, the immigration service has an online system called InfoPass which allows you to make a scheduled appointment. People frequently find these appointments pointless because it seems as if the agent punches in your case number and reads you back the information that you read yourself online and which the phone operator on the 1-800 number told you.
  • Sending letters to USCIS. This tactic does not usually work either. Many times the letter gets routed to the wrong office or never catches up to your file. In our experience, the USCIS officers do not actually respond to the letters and the letters generally have little to no effect on the speed of your citizenship or green card case.
  • Help from a member of Congress. Some people contact their Senator or Representative. In fairness, this effort sometimes works. But our clients tell us that just as USCIS ignores them, they usually ignore the member of Congress as well. They may send a reply letter, but the reply letter usually tells the member of Congress, in very polite terms, that USCIS will decide the case on their own schedule. It should also be noted that if you are applying for naturalization or a green card, you are by definition a non-citizen which means that you cannot vote for the member of Congress so you can imagine where your request falls on the Congressperson’s priority list.

So after months or years of immigration delay, is there anything that can be done to make USCIS decide a case? In many cases, there is one option that very few individuals or lawyers are willing to take. To find out more about how we can help you with immigration delay litigation, please fill out our online contact form or call us at 314-961-8200.

St. Louis Immigration & Deportation Law Firm Sues Federal Government For Visa Delay

We recently filed a new lawsuit against the federal government for delays in the processing of our client’s family based visa applications.  Our client is a United States citizen of Pakistani descent.  He filed a spouse visa two years ago and a family based visa for his father more than three years ago.  The case is being handled out of the St. Louis field office of USCIS.

Our client has done everything humanly possible to try and get USCIS to make a decision on the cases.  He has made numerous InfoPass appointments at the USCIS office.  He has asked for congressional help and Senator McCaskill’s office attempted to intervene.  He has written letters.  He has called the USCIS 1-800 number.  Not only has USCIS ignored him, they basically ignored Senator McCaskill’s office as well.

Our firm has heard similar complaints over the years.  USCIS has been known to delay naturalization cases for years, even though the law requires them to decide a case when 120 days have passed since the naturalization interview.  The Administrative Procedures Act requires USCIS to decide all of its cases in a “reasonable” time.  Our client believes, and we agree, that three years (on his dad’s case) and two years (on his wife’s case) is unreasonable.  We filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) to compel governmental action.

We have learned that the only effective way to get USCIS’s attention so that they will take action on a case is to sue them.  In fact, one of our prior clients was actually told that by an immigration officer on the 1-800 number.  We have helped over 50 people obtain favorable decisions in long-delayed citizenship cases and have helped 10 people obtain their green cards faster than if they had waited to sue.

The government’s response is due in the next few weeks.  We will update the website with additional developments.

If you have experienced long, unreasonable delays at USCIS, please give us a call at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page to learn how the immigration attorneys at the Hacking Law Practice, LLC might be able to help.