Politics

Trump’s In-Laws Probably Got Green Cards Through Chain-Migration Category He Wants To End

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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President Donald Trump’s in-laws likely obtained legal, permanent U.S. residence through a visa category that would be eliminated if the president’s chain-migration termination proposal were passed into law.

First Lady Melania Trump’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, are green-card holders are on the verge of obtaining U.S. citizenship, according to their family lawyer. They’ve not publicly disclosed their U.S.-immigration story, but it’s likely their daughter sponsored them for immigrant visas, according to the Washington Post (citing immigration-law experts and “people familiar with their status”).

The first lady’s parents’ immigration history has been an open question for some time, but it has taken on greater salience in light of President Trump’s demand that chain migration be eliminated in a deal to give amnesty to younger illegal immigrants. Under the White House framework for such a deal, family based visas would be pared down to just spouses and minor children. The chain-migration categories (including the parents of U.S. citizens) would be phased out.

“Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children,” Trump said during his State of the Union address last month. “This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.”

There are a limited number of paths the Knavses could have used to legally immigrate. One option, an employment-based green card, is unlikely, as neither Viktor Knavs nor Amalija Knavs meet the eligibility criteria for any of the so-called EB visa categories.

The likelier path is as recipients of an IR-5 visa, which is set aside for the parents of a U.S.-citizen sponsor who is at least 21 years old.

“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,” immigration lawyer former-American Immigration Lawyers Association president David Leopold told WaPo.

Melania Trump became a U.S. citizen in 2001 — a year after she and President Trump were married. In 2000, Melania Trump self-sponsored herself for a green card based on her “extraordinary ability” as a model, according to information Melania Trump-immigration-attorney Michael J. Wildes released.

The White House declined to comment on the immigration history of Melania Trump’s parents.

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