Lawsuit Against State Department Secures Spouse Visa After 5 Year Wait

We filed suit several months ago on behalf of a U.S. citizen originally from Pakistan.  Our client had filed a spouse visa application for her husband in 2009.  At the time that she filed, she was a lawful permanent resident.  While the case was pending, she naturalized and became a U.S. citizen.  She notified the government that she had become a U.S. citizen.

This should have accelerated her husband’s case.  The spouses of U.S. citizens are considered immediate relatives and there is no cap on the number of spouse visas that can be granted each year.  There is such a cap for the spouses of lawful permanent residents so her naturalization should have sped her case up.

But the fact is her husband was a Muslim man from Pakistan.  The federal government routinely slows down applications for immigration benefits for Muslims.  Bringing an adult male Muslim to the U.S. is one of the hardest things that we do in our office.  The federal government has even been sued for these unconstitutional delays.

Our client had filed without an attorney.  We believe that also had something to do with the delay.  Every day, we see case after case where the government engages in hijinks that they would never try if a knowledgeable lawyer were involved.

The U.S. citizen spouse did everything that she could to move her case along.  She called the National Visa Center.  She emailed the embassy repeatedly.  She asked for help from Senator Claire McCaskill.  None of these things work as the State Department basically does whatever it wants.  (The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering a case challenging the discretion afforded to the State Department in visa cases).

When our client first came to see us, she and her husband had been waiting nearly four years to be together.  We recommended filing suit against the State Department.  Although our office had never sued the State Department before, we have filed suit on behalf of nearly 80 people waiting for benefits from the Citizenship & Immigration Service.  We thought that a suit against the State Department might work.

She ultimately decided at that time to keep waiting to see if the government would come through.  We stayed in touch and after another year of waiting, our client and her husband decided to hire us to sue the State Department on their behalf.

Almost immediately after we served a copy of the lawsuit on State Department lawyers, things started moving.  The embassy asked our client’s spouse to bring more documents to the embassy.  He was reinterviewed and his case was finally approved.  Last week, he arrived in the U.S. and is now living in St. Louis with his wife.  We are so happy for them.

People often mistakenly believe that the government will do the right thing and do what they are supposed to do.  Sometimes, that is true.  But often times a lawsuit is needed to get them to take a case off the shelf and finally decide it.  If you feel that you have been waiting too long for an embassy to take action, you should give us a call to discuss your options under the law.

The sign used as the backdrop for press briefings at the U.S. Department of State is seen before a press conference at the State Department Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006 in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
The sign used as the backdrop for press briefings at the U.S. Department of State is seen before a press conference at the State Department Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006 in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)