First lady Melania Trump reportedly gained permanent residence in the United States through a visa program specifically for people with “extraordinary ability.”
The Washington Post reported Thursday that President Donald Trump’s wife in March 2001 was one of only five people from Slovenia to enter the U.S. through the EB-1 program, also referred to as the “Einstein visa” program.
The EB-1 program is reserved for people such as academic researchers and multinational business executives, or those in other fields, such as Olympic athletes and Oscar-winning actors, who have demonstrated “sustained national and international acclaim,” the Post reported.
According to government statistics, only 3,376 of more than 1 million green cards in 2001 were issued through the EB-1 program.
The first lady was dating Donald Trump when she received her green card. The former model had been featured in runway shows in Europe and had been included in the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated.
With her green card, she was able to obtain U.S. citizenship as well as sponsor the legal residency of her parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs. The Post reports they are close to receiving their citizenship.
That would mean that the Knavses were given legal status based on family reunification, also called “chain migration” by detractors, which President Trump has repeatedly called on Congress to end:
Michael Wildes, the attorney for Melania Trump and her family, defended her selection for the EB-1 program.
“Mrs. Trump was more than amply qualified and solidly eligible,” he told the Post. “There is no reason to adjudicate her petition publicly when her privacy is so important to her.”