Murthy Success Story: A Case of Mistaken Identity

The Murthy Law Firm is proud to share an interesting recent success story involving long-delayed I-485 applications. The I-485 applications in this case were delayed due in part to confusion involving a fugitive foreign national. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) mistakenly assigned the same Alien Number to a fugitive and to a law-abiding applicant for permanent residence. The Murthy Law Firm filed a writ of mandamus, and negotiated the resolution with the appropriate U.S. Attorney’s Office. These actions resulted in the processing and approval of the delayed I-485 applications.

We appreciate our client for providing permission, allowing us to share this unusual story with MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers. All client information is confidential and none is shared without permission.

Delays Appear in I-485 Processing

In this case, the primary green card applicant was the beneficiary of an I-140 immigrant petition filed by his employer. The applicant and his spouse filed their I-485 applications in 2006, concurrent with the I-140 petition. (This was possible as the case was EB2 and the country of origin was not India or China, so the EB2 priority dates were current for all other countries in the employment-based category at the time.) The employer’s I-140 petition was approved within a reasonable period, but the I-485 remained pending beyond normal processing times. The priority date remained current.

In order to obtain a decision on the case, the I-485 applicant contacted the CIS Ombudsman and also made an inquiry through his U.S. senator’s office. He eventually made an Infopass appointment and inquired as to the reason for the delay in processing his and his family member’s I-485. The applicant was told that his FBI name check and fingerprint check had been cleared in 2006 and that these I-485s were being held for security clearance from outside the United States. Responses from the USCIS to other queries stated that generic background security checks were being completed.

Two People Incorrectly Assigned One Alien Number

The applicant eventually learned, through further inquires, that the delay in the I-485s was the result of a strange USCIS mistake. During a visit to his local USCIS office, the applicant was fingerprinted and questioned about his identity. He was told that he had been assigned the same Alien Number as a foreign national fugitive who was present in the United States without any legal permission. The applicant and this fugitive shared the same birth date, the same (fairly common) last name, and both were from the same country. USCIS had taken the applicant’s I-485 and placed it in the fugitive’s alien case file.

USCIS Transfers and Frustration with Delays

During this time, the applicant’s I-485 file was moved from a USCIS service center to three separate district offices in three different states. These transfers may have been a result of the confusion over the Alien Number that was shared by the applicant and the fugitive. Concerned about the last of these transfers, the applicant returned to his local USCIS office. His fingerprints were taken yet again and he spent more than an hour with a USCIS Officer, who checked him for distinguishing scars on his forearms and other details known about the fugitive. At the conclusion of this visit, the applicant was told that USCIS still had not issued him his own Alien Number and that his I-485 application and documents were still mixed with the fugitive’s records.

Mandamus Leads to Approvals

In order to force the USCIS to resolve any uncertainties and make a decision, the Murthy Law Firm filed a writ of mandamus lawsuit with the appropriate U.S. District Court, demanding that a decision on the case be made by the USCIS and stating that the delays were unreasonable for the individuals concerned. We explained the situation to the attorney representing the USCIS. This resulted in resolution to the confusion of identity, and just two months after filing the writ of mandamus, the USCIS assigned the applicant a new Alien Number and approved both his I-485 and his dependent’s I-485 applications. As any of us can imagine, both were delighted and relieved to finally be U.S. permanent residents.

Writs of Mandamus Can be Powerful

This was yet another successful use of the writ of mandamus to resolve improper delays in case processing by a government agency. We at the Murthy Law Firm have utilized this procedure for a wide variety of delayed or improperly processed nonimmigrant and immigrant cases. As noted in our April 10, 2009 article entitled, Mandamus Lawsuits for H1B, I-140, and Other Delays, cases that may be resolved include those that have been delayed for FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and USCIS security or background checks. Delays for other reasons, such as USCIS errors, may also be resolved through writs of mandamus.

This summary is also a way to show MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers the variety of reasons writs of mandamus might be worth considering in order to solve underlying problems with both nonimmigrant cases, such as the H1B, and immigrant cases, such as permanent residency (green card).


We at the Murthy Law Firm are proud to relate to our readers another story with a positive outcome. We express our appreciation for the hard work and cooperation of the USCIS officers and attorneys who labored expeditiously with us, once this problem was brought to their attention. We also are grateful for our clients’ willingness to share their story to help others who may need to consider options with regard to unacceptable delays on the part of a government agency.

Copyright © 2009, MURTHY LAW FIRM. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.