Q: My I-360 petition for battered spouse was recently approved. I am still married to the same abusive spouse. If I apply for annulment of my marriage, will my approved petition get cancelled?

A: Under the major provision of the Violence Against Women Act, an abused spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident can self-petition for lawful status in the United States. Generally, if the marriage is terminated for any reason after the self-petition is approved, that termination will not affect the application.

In addition, if the marriage was not valid because the abuser had a prior or concurrent marriage that was not legally terminated, and you, the self-petitioner, believed that the marriage was valid and can demonstrate that a marriage ceremony was performed, then your application or petition can move forward.

I need more information, and suggest that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney.
Q: My mother has had a green card for the last four years. Every year she makes a trip to India and returns in less than six months. This year she plans to stay there for more than six months. Will she have problems re-entering the United States?

A: Permanent resident status is not automatically lost by a lengthy absence abroad, but an extended absence is one factor taken into account by the USCIS in judging the intentions of an individual who has been absent for an extended period. Therefore the key factor is your mother’s intentions; the USCIS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will look at objective facts that indicate her intent. So depending on the actual length of absence, she should be ready to provide an explanation about why she was absent for such a long time and what her long-term plans are.

Q: I am currently a full-time student on an F-1 visa. I plan to change schools after the spring semester. Can I do that on my current F-1 visa? Do I need to file any documents with the immigration service?

A: If you are maintaining F-1 status, you may transfer to another USCIS-approved school whether to continue in the same educational program or to enter another program. It is important that you follow the notification procedures. I suggest that you contact the Designated Student Officer (DSO) at your current school and at your new school and ensure that your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) records are updated.
Generally USCIS approval is not necessary as long as you are in a valid student status.

Q: My brother and his wife have just obtained L-1 and L-2 visas to come to the United States. Is my sister-in-law allowed to take up employment while on L-2 status?

A: Yes. However, she must first apply for employment authorization and provided it is approved, she is authorized to take up employment.

Immigration and business attorney Indu Liladhar-Hathi has an office in San Jose. (408) 294-7999.