Thursday, April 21, 2022

Litigation to Expedite Naturalization Adjudication

Naturalization remains an important step for lawful residents to obtain the rights and benefits of U.S. citizenship. Yet there has been a well documented backlog, despite an interagency effort from the USCIS to catch up on the backlog.

Under the current Immigration & Nationality Act and the Administrative Procedures Act a Writ of Mandamus may be filed in the U.S. District Court if the USCIS has failed to issue a decision on a properly filed immigration application after a “reasonable” period of time. Typically, this is defined as 6 months. 

The district court will review the matter and may take one of several actions. The court is permitted to issue an order requiring that USCIS make a decision on the application within a specific period of time, generally 30 to 90 days. The court is allowed to dismiss or terminate the lawsuit if it believes that the individual does not meet the requirements for the application or if it believes the delay by the USCIS is reasonable, necessary or permissible.

A practice advisory from the American Immigration Council on how to file a mandamus lawsuit (here) or APA challenge (here). Statistics on litigation to compel action on naturalization kept by TRAC here. Additional studies of naturalization rates, denials, and disparities by Emily Ryo & Reed Humphrey (data from FOIA request) and myself here.


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