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Should I File a Writ of Mandamus Individually or With Someone Else?

Updated: Mar 4, 2023



I once spoke with a young man outside the United States who wanted to file a mandamus petition related to his F1 visa application pending at an overseas consulate. He was accepted into a graduate program in the United States. He did not have much money and wanted to know if he and one other person could file a joint petition to save money? This other individual had an F1 visa application pending at the same consulate but for a different university in a different state. Did it make sense to file a single mandamus petition?


So, should you file a mandamus petition individually or with others to save money? The short answer is that it depends. In many cases, it will not affect the outcome of the case. And it can save each person money. However, it is not the best thing to do in every case. Here are two things to consider when deciding whether to file individually or as part of a group.


Venue

The first consideration is venue. As I discussed in a recent post, federal law outlines rules for where you can file a mandamus petition:


(A) where a defendant (a United States officer or employee) resides;


(B) where a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated; or


(C) where the plaintiff resides if no real property is involved.



For example, if all members of your proposed group all reside in the same city (e.g., Buffalo) or in the jurisdiction of the same U.S. District Court (e.g., Buffalo and Rochester), filing as a group might make sense. You are all in the same jurisdiction of the local U.S. District Court.


But if the rules governing venue force your group to file in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, you might consider whether this makes the most sense knowing that the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C. will probably put up a fight against your petition AND some attorneys might charge more for having to deal with that, and you could face delays. Will the cost and delay of a fight still make it cost effective to file as a group rather than as individuals? In some cases, the answer might be yes. So you do it. But it is something to consider.


This is a very important consideration, especially if you are considering a mandamus petition from outside the country with minimal contacts in the United States. For example, if your F1 visa application is delayed, you can file a mandamus petition where the university is located. But if you want to file with others with F1 processing delays for schools in other states, you might be forced to deal with the federal court in D.C. rather than the federal court where your school is. The case might get resolved faster and easier where the school is located compared to D.C. Again, something to consider.


Another venue consideration is whether the law will even allow you to file as a group. For example, 8 U.S.C. 1447(b) requires plaintiffs challenging delays related to naturalization applications to file the lawsuit where the plaintiff lives. If you reside in Buffalo (the Western District of New York) and have friends with the same problem reside on Long Island (the Eastern District of New York), filing together would pose a big problem because you reside in the geographic jurisdictions of different federal courts.


Complexity and Strength of the Cases

Another consideration is the relative complexity and strength of each case. Many mandamus cases get resolved within 60 days of filing. The easier you can make the case, the greater then chance it will be resolved in your favor within the 60 days. The more complex you make it by including several different cases, the chances go down.


For example, if you have been in administrative processing for three years and the other person has been in administrative processing for four years at the same consulate for the same type of visa, it might make sense to file the mandamus petition together. However, if the other person has only been in administrative processing for 190 days (the general standard for administrative processing is 180 days) and ignored requests for evidence, your case is considerably stronger than your friend's case, and it might make more sense to file individually.


These are just some considerations these do no include the considerations with filing a class action lawsuit.


Each case has to be evaluated individually. As with all matters related to filing a mandamus petition, it is best to consult with an experienced attorney. If your immigration application is unreasonably delayed, please give me a call today for a free consultation about your case.

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