While she was working as a supermodel and dating Donald Trump, Melania began petitioning the US government for the right to permanently reside in the United States. Melania was granted a green card in 2001 under a program reserved for people with “extraordinary ability”, known as the “Einstein Visa”. According to the US government website, the EB-1 programme was designed for renowned academic researchers and multinational business executives.
It was also reserved for those in other fields, such as Olympic athletes and Oscar-winning actors, who demonstrated “sustained national and international acclaim”.
Former Democratic congressman Brice Morrison told the Washington Post: “We called it the Einstein Visa.”
There has been a whole lot of uncertainty over how Melania qualified for the coveted EB-1 Visa.
According to the State Department, only only five people in Slovenia received green cards under the EB-1 program during the year Melania got her legal US residency.
Suspicions were raised over how Melania Trump obtained the ‘Einstein Visa’
Only five Slovenians got a green card under the EB-1 visa in 2001
US government statistics claim of the one million green cards issued in 2001, just 3,376 were issued to immigrants with “extraordinary ability”.
Trump family lawyer Michael Wildes told the Washington Post he was not surprised so few Slovenians obtained the EB-1 visa in 2001 because the requirements are stringent.
The lawyer declined to discuss what qualifications the First Lady cited in her petition for permanent residency.
He said: “Mrs. Trump was more than amply qualified and solidly eligible.
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An immigration expert claimed Melania’s application seemed ‘inconsistent’
“There is no reason to adjudicate her petition publicly when her privacy is so important to her.”
To tick the box for the extraordinary ability category, Melania would have had to provide evidence of a major award or meet at least three out of 10 criteria.
It also includes evidence of work displayed at artistic exhibitions and evidence of original contributions to a field.
Mr Morrison, an immigration expert, claimed Melania’s resumé in 2001 seemed “inconsistent” with the requirements of the visa.
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Melania first came to the US in 1996 on a visitor’s visa
Melania’s modelling profile was raised after she started dating him in 1998
Melania does not appear at the time to have excelled in a niche area of modelling, nor won awards or had her work written about in significant publications.
Immigration lawyer David Leopold told the Washington Post: “What did she submit?”
“There are a lot of questions about how she procured entry into the US.”
Melania first came to the US from Slovenia in 1996, originally on a visitor’s visa and then on work visas, according to Mr Wildes.
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Industry professionals argues she was not known widely in the competitive New York fashion world at first.
One claimed: “She was never a supermodel; she was a working model.”
Nita Upadhye, a US immigration specialist, told the BBC testimonials form part of the application form and the more high-profile the reference the more weight it carried.
She said: “If you’re in the acting world, and Quentin Tarantino or Steven Spielberg writes a letter saying you’re the next best thing, that can be very persuasive.”
An immigration expert claimed a high-profile reference could help support an EB-1 application
Ms Upadhye said: “It’s about getting testimonials from someone who is extraordinary in their own right and has some name recognition, but who can also attest to specific achievements of the applicant.
“I’m sure she probably had some pretty significant letters, maybe from Donald Trump.”
Melania began dating Trump after meeting him at a party in 1998 which raised her modelling profile.
Through securing her green card, Melania not only set her on the path to US citizenship, but put her in the position to sponsor the legal residency of her parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs.
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