We broke the news this week that 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After couple Molly Hopkins and Luis Mendez have finalized their divorce, and many fans are wondering how the short duration of their marriage will impact Luis’ immigration status. Unlike his co-star Mohamed Jbali, it doesn’t appear as though Luis has gotten his green card yet, so that means his situation is vastly different — and he will have a MUCH more difficult time trying to stay in the United States.
The most important thing is the timing. As we were the first to report, Luis and Molly officially got married on July 20, 2017. Molly first filed paperwork for the divorce on January 23, and it appears that the couple officially separated (for the last time) at the very beginning of January. That means they were only married for just over five months before they separated for good. (They were also separated for part of that five months, but that’s irrelevant to the timeline for the green card application.)
My knowledge of the immigration process as it relates to the K-1 visa is limited, but the very knowledgeable redditor @CatherineAm offered up an in-depth analysis on the Molly and Luis case on the r/90DayFiance subreddit. (Included in its entirety below.) The “too long, didn’t read” summary she provides up front about Luis’ situation is that “unless he’s going for a domestic abuse claim, he’s very unlikely to have gotten his green card before they split, and is less likely (like, 0% chance) to get it now. He’ll be here illegally, subject to deportation, or leave on his own.”
She iterates that Luis’ case is completely different from Mohamed’s in that Mohamed applied for his green card and received it prior to his divorce from Danielle. In other words, it is much, much easier to not give someone a green card than to take one away.
More from @CatherinAm:
They were married at the end of July 2017. They could not have applied before then. The Atlanta Field Office (which probably has his application– I-485 look it up) is taking between 10.5 to 23 months to process them, remember what I said about USCIS processing times (although 10 months isn’t unheard of, my husband’s took 7, 2 years ago).
He would maaaaaybe maaaaaybe have gotten an interview earlier this month. But, without a cooperating spouse, it would be denied (remember this is DIFFERENT from Mohammad’s process, Mohammad is trying to remove conditions from his conditional green card, Luis is trying to GET the conditional green card in the first place).
As you are probably aware if you read my post about their divorce, I was under the impression that Luis’ sponsor would still be on the hook for him for the next ten years if he remains in the country. Apparently that is not the case — @CatherinAm points out that the sponsorship can be withdrawn right up until the point where Luis receives his green card. And if the sponsorship is withdrawn, then no green card.
But wait, doesn’t Luis have a social security card and work permit already?
Yep. When you apply for a green card you also apply for a temporary work permit, and those come in 3 or 4 months. You can get a social security card after that, but it has a restriction printed on it “NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT WITHOUT DHS AUTHORIZATION”, meaning “you need to show this plus a work permit or green card to use it for work”. The work permit expires after a year.
Also, if Luis uses his woo pitchin’ skills on another lady in the meantime, and somehow convinces her to rush to the altar with him, it will still require that he return to the Dominican Republic and reapply for another K-1 visa. “K1 entrants can only ‘adjust status’ on the basis of marriage to the person they got the visa with, and yes USCIS knows who that is (my name is printed on my husband’s actual visa in his passport).”
BUT WAIT! Luis still has one potential ace up his sleeve: domestic abuse. “VAWA allows immigrants to get this first green card without the support of the spouse, or without still being married to them, in the event of abuse.” Not only does this seem like a likely ploy Luis would try based on what viewers have seen of him on 90 Day Fiance, and what viewers saw in the preview trailer for the upcoming season of Happily Ever after, but Luis said pretty much exactly that earlier this year!
“If you want to see all about domestic violence soon follow this page it’s gonna post there,” Luis wrote on Instagram in early March, along with the url for his Facebook page. Although he never delivered on his promise as far as providing details about any domestic violence on his Facebook page, I think it is obvious that he is setting the stage for an attempt to accuse Molly of it in hopes of still being able to get his green card. Perhaps that will merit a return for Happily Ever After Season 4?
Here’s the full reddit post:
A HUGE MAD LOVE shout out to the 90 Day Fiance subreddit! If you love the show and want to share your passions with some witty, creative, and downright diligently resourceful compatriots (aka twin flames), then you need to be subscribed before the season kicks off! I particularly love it because they tend to avoid spiraling down into pure vitriol, bitterness, and hatefulness like numerous reality show “fan” groups often do. Sure, they will roast cast members in a heartbeat, but it is all in good fun and won’t make you feel like you need to take a shower after. (I’ve been writing about reality shows for a long time, and it is by far my favorite group of fans!)
Meanwhile, be sure to either clear your schedule or set your DVRs for the 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After premiere on Sunday, May 20 at 9/7c on TLC! We already have an episode synopsis that has me giddy as a Connecticut Yankee gal in King Jesse’s apartment for the first time:
Season 3 Episode 1: “Home Sweet Home?”
Jorge meets with divorce attorneys; Chantel questions Pedro’s motives for sending money home; it’s the moment of truth for Nicole and Azan; Molly decides she won’t quit; Pao gets bad news from Colombia; David and Annie struggle.
Asa Hawks is a writer and editor for Starcasm.