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Writs of Mandamus Explained


A writ of mandamus is a type of legal order issued by a court that requires a government official or entity to perform a specific action that is required by law. This type of writ is often used to address situations in which a government official or entity has failed to fulfill their legal obligations, and it is intended to provide a remedy to the aggrieved party.


In order to obtain a writ of mandamus, the party seeking the writ must show that they have a clear legal right to the action that is being requested, and that the government official or entity has a legal duty to perform the action. If the court determines that these conditions are met, it will issue the writ and direct the government official or entity to perform the required action.


One common example of a writ of mandamus is when a government agency fails to issue a decision on a permit application within the time frame required by law. In this situation, the applicant may seek a writ of mandamus to force the agency to make a decision on the application.

Another example is when a government official refuses to perform a required action, such as issuing a marriage license to a couple who is entitled to be married under the law. In this case, the couple may seek a writ of mandamus to force the official to perform their legal duty.


The writ of mandamus is an important tool for holding government officials and entities accountable to the law. It provides a means for individuals and organizations to seek relief when their legal rights have been violated, and it ensures that the government is held to the same legal standards as everyone else.


If you wish to win a mandamus action, you must be able to prove three things:

  • The plaintiff has a strong claim to the desired relief.

  • The agency has a clear obligation to carry out the act in question; and

  • There are no other adequate therapies available.

Plaintiff’s Clear Right to Relief


You must identify specific sections in the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") that offer the right to relief in order to demonstrate a clear claim to the requested relief. The specified INA provision should clearly establish that the agency owes you a responsibility and that you fall within the scope of interests protected by the INA provision.


In general, two immigration situations are deemed to provide plaintiffs with a clear entitlement to relief:

  • Naturalization

  • Adjustment of Status

If the judge finds that DHS's delay in determining your application was unreasonable, the judge will order USCIS to expedite its judgment in your case, usually within a specific timeframe. A writ of mandamus should ideally prompt DHS and USCIS to approve your pending immigration application. However, there is a potential that submitting a writ of mandamus will result in your application being denied quickly.


How do you prepare a writ of mandamus?

Depending on where it is filed, a writ of mandamus must include precise facts. In general, the writ must include the petitioner's name, the specifics of the case, and any supporting evidence or information.


On what grounds can a writ of mandamus be issued?

A mandamus writ might be issued to compel a lower court or a government official to do something. For example, if a judge has a personal relationship with one of the parties in a court case, that judge should designate a new judge, and if they do not, a writ of mandamus may be issued.


What is an example of a writ?


A mandamus writ can be issued against a court or a government authority. For example, if a government employee refuses to divulge information that should be made public, a writ of mandamus might be issued, requesting that the court order the publication of the material.

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