When I discuss cases with younger attorneys and they describe the obstacles to success, I tell them "Anyone can win the easy case, satisfaction comes with winning the hard cases." Last week I had a particularly satisfying case for a client who had come to me over two years ago with a problem. She had filed a naturalization case in March of 2004 and desperately wanted to file an immigrant visa petition on behalf of her husband whom she had married that same year. After filing her naturalization application her original attorney was unable to close the deal. The case was pending for month after month, and interview took place in November of 2006 and still no decision was made on the naturalization by USCIS. Letters were sent by the prior attorney and ignored by USCIS. I was hired to resolve this situation.
I filed a Writ of Mandamus, a Federal District Court case demanding that the Naturalization case be completed, and within 60 days my client was approved for naturalization and attended her swearing in ceremony to become a citizen. What is remarkable however is that by October of that same year I also had the pleasure of attending the legal permanent residence interview for her husband in which he was approved and received his green card. There is no doubt in my mind that had we not filed our action in Federal District Court, my client would still be waiting for a response from USCIS regarding her naturalization and she and her husband would be suffering through sleepless nights wondering how they would be able to help him obtain work authorization and legal permanent resident status.
Good attorneys learn to rise to the occasion, and explore all options for their clients. And when dealing with USCIS, attorneys need the ability to effectively resolve delayed cases. Delays are common as USCIS often shift resources and personnel from one "fire" to the next when attempting to reduce backlogs and delays in processing. In addition there are a dozen reasons why cases are taken off normal approval tracks and sidelined. Cases are often delayed where an applicant has filed more than one immigrant or non-immigrant case with the USCIS or the Department of State. It is standard procedure to delay an approval until the case file is "consolidated". Cases are delayed where an officer seeks an additional background check or investigation of claims by the applicant. I have also had cases where clients have provided written notice of a change of address, but USCIS fails to take notice and sends additional requests for evidence to an old address. In some cases USCIS simply does not wish to grant the case based on general background information, but does not have a legal basis to deny.
Whatever the reason may be, there are real and lasting consequences to delays on immigration cases and I urge applicants suffering for extended delays to consult their attorney regarding the benefits of filing an action in Federal District Court.
Robert J. DuPont is an attorney with the law firm of Wilner & O'Reilly. Mr. DuPont Graduated from Yale University and USC Law School and is admitted to the California Supreme Court, and Federal District Courts in the Central and Northern Districts of California as well as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. DuPont is a regular speaker with ILW, and past chairman of the Immigration Law Committee with the Beverly Hills Bar Association. Mr. DuPont has risen to prominence with a 10 year practice in the field of immigration law as well as influencing Department of State and USCIS practices and policies through Federal District Court litigation including a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision on V-Visas eliminating age-out of minor V-visa recipients