Melania Trump’s parents get US green cards


The Slovenian parents of US First Lady Melania Trump have legally received US permanent resident status, possibly through a family immigration programme that her husband, US President Donald Trump threatens to end.

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio, US Feb 5, 2018. Reuters

Experts told The Washington Post that Viktor and Amalija Knavs likely used the family reunification process derided by President Trump as ‘chain migration’.

“I can confirm that Mrs Trump’s parents are both lawfully admitted to the United States as permanent residents,” their immigration lawyer Michael Wildes told the Post.

“The family, as they are not part of the administration, has asked that their privacy be respected, so I will not comment further on this matter.”

Viktor and Amalija Knavs are currently waiting for their naturalisation oath ceremony, a source told the Post. Permanent residents in the US usually have to wait five years before they can apply for US citizenship.

Immigration experts told The Washington Post and The New York Times that there are two major ways Trump’s in-laws could have received the green card – through sponsorship by their daughter or their employer.

The latter requires evidence no Americans could do the job the two were hired to do. Viktor Knavs worked as a driver and car salesman while Amaljia Knavs made patterns at a textile factory. Both are reportedly retired.

Thus their most reasonable path to citizenship would be sponsorship by First Lady Melania Trump, immigration lawyer David Leopold told The Washington Post.

“That would be the logical way to do it, the preferred way to do it and possibly the only way to do it under the facts that I know,” Leopold said.

Foreigners can also request refugee status or apply through humanitarian programmes.

In January Donald Trump proposed ending the ability of US citizens to sponsor parents and siblings for legal residency in the US. The president blasted the programme, calling it ‘chain migration, in his State of the Union address, and stated it was a threat to American security and quality of life.

“Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives,” he said in his speech. “Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security and our future.”

“We need a 21st Century ­MERIT-BASED immigration system,” he tweeted later. “Chain migration and the visa lottery are outdated programs that hurt our economic and national security.”

Melania Trump became a US citizen in 2006, a year after she married Donald Trump.