Melania Trump came to the United States in 1996 on a tourist visa. She applied for several different visas for skilled workers including the H-1B. In the end, she was approved for an Einstein Visa in 2001.
An Einstein Visa is given to individuals who have “extraordinary abilities”, or are “outstanding professors or researchers.” Melania being a model did not fit the qualifications for the visa.
On Monday, Trump directed his administration to reform the H-1B visa system and move toward “merit-based immigration.” He suspended H-1B and several other temporary visas that are given to immigrants that are seeking to live and work in the US.
Trump’s actions have again raised questions about the welfare of immigrants and minorities throughout the US. It has also revived the debate about how his wife, a Slovenian national by birth, became a US citizen.
The H-1B visa was created to ensure the flow of skilled technicians and workers into the US. It is offered to those working in specialist professions such as computer science, biotechnology, research, etc, Models from overseas in the 1990s needed a visa to live and work in the US. Melania Trump did not fit the guidelines for an H-1B visa.
Once she was a legal citizen, Melania sponsored her parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, who arrived on Slovenia on similar working visas. In 2018, they were under the process of filing for citizenship.
After Trump suspended the visas many pointed out that had such rules existed previously, Melania would not be living in the White House. The questions surrounding her eligibility for an Einstein visa have again been raised. Einstein visas are reserved for individuals with great skills such as a Nobel, Oscar, or Pulitzer Prize winner.
Back in 2016, several accusations of her alleged illegal immigration to the US surfaced. Melania continues to maintain that she arrived in the country legally and never violated the terms of her immigration status.
Melania’s attorney has shared in the past that she came to the U.S. from Slovenia on Aug. 27, 1996, on a B1/B2 visitor visa and then obtained an H-1B work visa on Oct. 18, 1996.
A statement issued by the White House says that the changes to visa laws would protect the salaries of American workers and ensure that foreign labor coming into the US is high-skilled and does not undercut the United States labor market.
The statement added that Trump and his administration would be reforming the system to prioritize skilled workers as well as protect American jobs.