Back in 2000, Melania Knauss, a Slovenian model, dating Donald Trump at that time, began petitioning the government for the right to permanently reside in the United States under a program reserved for people with “extraordinary ability.”
In March 2001, she got a green card in the elite EB-1 program, called “The Einstein Program”. Most of all, the program was designed for those who demonstrated “sustained national and international acclaim.”
Especially relevant, to obtain an EB-1, an immigrant has to provide meet at least three out of 10 criteria. Among them: evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts and evidence of original contributions to a field.
The Slovenian parents of the first lady Melania are legal permanent residents of the United States, according to the lawyer representing them in the process. Therefore, raising questions about whether they are living in the US by the very means President Donald Trump has heavily criticized and sought to end.
The Knavs’ immigration attorney told CNN that as of February, the couple is living in the US on green cards. Hence they are allowed to live and work in the US indefinitely and paves the way for citizenship.
As a result, immigration experts said Viktor and Amalija Knavs very likely relied on a family reunification process that President Trump has derided as “chain migration” and proposed ending in such cases.
Mr. Trump has vilified the program as a way for terrorists to enter the US and has called to eliminate aspects of the program as part of the immigration reform. “CHAIN MIGRATION must end now!” he wrote on Twitter in November. “Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!”
There are only a handful of ways that immigrants can obtain green cards, and the largest share of them are given out based on familial connections. A smaller number go to immigrants based on their employment, and other categories include refugees and other exceptional cases.