First lady Melania Trump obtained a green card allowing her stay in the U.S. permanently through an elite visa program established for immigrants with “extraordinary abilities,” The Washington Post reported Thursday.
The so-called Einstein visa is aimed at people born abroad who have earned “sustained acclaim,” including renowned researchers or business leaders, award-winning performing artists and Olympic athletes. Applicants are instructed to submit evidence of a history of accomplishment or of a “one-time” achievement, such as a “Pulitzer, Oscar [or] Olympic Medal,” according to the requirements for the visa.
“You must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim,” the requirements state. Applicants can also “demonstrate international recognition for … outstanding achievements in a particular academic field.” Applicants can submit “authorship of scholarly articles.”
According to Melania Trump’s bio during the presidential campaign, she graduated from the “University of Slovenia” with a degree in design and architecture. But she actually dropped out of college her freshman year, according to her biographers. And there is no University of Slovenia. The first lady’s current White House bio now says she “paused” her studies at the University of Ljubljana.
The first lady, who was Melania Knauss at the time, obtained an EB-1 visa from her native Slovenia in 2001 along with only four other Slovenes that year. Just .34 percent of all those who obtained green cards in the U.S. that year qualified for the EB-1 visa. She married Trump in 2005 and became a citizen in 2006.
Knauss was a working model when she met Donald Trump in 1998. One of her most notable jobs by 2001 was a photo in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (Vanity Fair quipped that kissing an inflatable whale might have done the trick for her visa). She obtained HB-1 visas for skilled immigrants until she snagged the EB-1 visa about two years after first being photographed with Trump. She was later photographed nude in Trump’s private jet for a 2000 issue of British GQ.
Her special visa paved the way for her to sponsor her parents’ move to the U.S., a process that Donald Trump now opposes as “chain migration.” The first lady’s parents have obtained permanent resident status in the U.S. and are about to become citizens, sources told The Washington Post.
Michael Wildes, an attorney for Melania Trump, told the Post that the first lady was “more than amply qualified and solidly eligible” for the EB-1 program. He told The Jewish Standard in 2016 when discussing the visa: “There is no doubt that she is highly accomplished.”
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