MAY 2011
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


Dilip Patel


Many applications for naturalization remain undecided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) even after the applicant has been interviewed. This may happen because USCIS cannot obtain the needed FBI name check or simply because of administrative inefficiencies.

However, a special provision of the immigration laws permits many such applicants to file a “mandamus” action in federal district court to compel USCIS to act. The case must be pending for at least 120 days after the interview before an action can be filed.

Filing a naturalization mandamus action is relatively easy, inexpensive, and achieves results — it gets the case decided. That’s because U.S. attorneys don’t like them and judges don’t like them. U.S. attorneys don’t like to appear before a judge on a matter than should have been decided administratively; judges consider them a waste of value judicial resources.

Typically, upon service of the law suit, the U.S. attorney contacts the local USCIS attorney in charge of naturalization applications and requests that the case be adjudicated. The USCIS counsel directs an adjudicator to review the case and make a decision. Mandamus actions usually result in the case being decided in two to six months. While mandamus does not guarantee a favorable decision on the naturalization application, it does compel that a decision be made.

If you’ve had your naturalization interview and more than 120 days have passed without a decision, contact our firm to discuss how a mandamus action can help you.


The 112th Congress ushered in a sea change in the composition and balance of power in Washington and with a clear message that immigration enforcement will be the centerpiece of any and all Republican efforts to deal with immigration. The session began with a bang when the Republican House leadership named Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.) — rather than Steve King (R-Iowa) — to chair the House immigration subcommittee. King had been the ranking Republican on the subcommittee last session, and it was viewed as a “snub” that he did not get the nod for this chairmanship. Rep. Gallegly consistently has been one of the fiercest immigration hawks in Congress for more than 20 years.

As chair of the immigration subcommittee, Rep. Gallegly hasn’t wasted any time getting to the business of his committee. Numerous hearings have been scheduled and reports have been commissioned focusing on enforcement — at the border, in the workplace, and in the courts. At a Feb. 10 hearing, Chairman Gallegly said he plans to introduce a bill to mandate the use of E-Verify for all businesses within the next month. E-Verify is a database system through which employers can check the work authorization of their employees. The database system, however, is not without flaws.

While President Obama has openly spoken in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, the actions of his administration thus far appear to more closely resemble the Republican’s enforcement-first strategy. The administration deported a record number of individuals in 2010 — nearly 400,000, which eclipsed the previous record set by President Obama in 2009 and the Bush Administration before him. Yet, at the same time, President Obama continues to talk publicly of his support for the DREAM Act as well as for a broader comprehensive immigration reform package. The DREAM Act enjoyed wide support in the previous Congress, but ultimately failed to pass in the waning days of December’s lame-duck session. In his State of the Union address, President Obama again reiterated his call to allow young people who were brought to the United States as undocumented minors to earn their citizenship through attending college or enlisting in the military. Above all else, the President appears to view immigration as an economic imperative and one of the mechanisms that can help bring the country out of the current economic situation.

Meanwhile, the lack of federal action leaves a vacuum that many state legislatures are attempting to fill. One of the trends with new legislatures across the country has been legislation that would make participation in the federal E-Verify program mandatory on the state level. Three states — Arizona, South Carolina and Mississippi — recently passed such laws and at least 15 others have similar bills at various stages in the legislative process. Further, a number of hard-line state legislators across the country have introduced bills attempting to curtail or eliminate birthright citizenship through state action. While most experts agree that attempts to restrict birthright citizenship will be unsuccessful without an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, such efforts are worth keeping an eye on, if only to gauge the immigration temperature at the state level.

Dilip Patel of Dilip Patel Law Firm (Business and Immigration Attorneys) is board certified in immigration and nationality law. He can be reached at (813) 855-0066, e-mail or visit

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