A writ of mandamus, broadly speaking, is a court order that can be issued by a judge to any public official, government agency, or lower-level court within their jurisdiction, demanding that individual, agency or court do something that it is legally supposed to do. Once an application for a writ of mandamus has been filed (and before the federal judge decides on it), the Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) must answer within 60 days, or 120 if they request and receive an extension (which they usually do). The judge then decides whether to issue the writ of mandamus, and can potentially impose penalties for failure to comply with the mandamus without a good reason. However, the AUSA is almost always able to get United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to adjudicate the matter before they need to answer, making the matter moot.Â Thus, writs of mandamus are rarely ever contested in court, even when they are requested, because the matter is resolved before the judge is forced to issue the mandamus.
In the case of a stalled naturalization or citizenship application, an AUSA will respond on behalf of USCIS, usually starting by requesting (and almost always receiving) the extension from the court. Usually, USCIS will approve or adjudicate your application before the AUSA files a formal response. This is because a writ of mandamus, and the threat of being held in contempt of court for failing to comply with the mandamus, adds an increased incentive to process your application, potentially saving you months of additional waiting.
Here at Bretz & Coven, LLP, we have over 20 years filing mandamus requests with federal District Courts in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, compelling the USCIS to act on cases that have been delayed or stuck in the docket. In most cases, our immigration attorneys will get an adjudication within 120 days of filing. If you wish to request a mandamus or for more information, call (212) 267-2555 or visit Bretz & Coven, LLP.