Gaps in Melania Trump's immigrant story raise questions

A racy photo shoot is prompting new scrutiny the the would-be an initial lady's beforehand visits come the joined States.

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By BEN SCHRECKINGER and GABRIEL DEBENEDETTI

EDITOR"S NOTE: after this article"s publication, Melania Trump released a letter native an attorney who claims that the reviewed she immigration background and that she entered the nation for the first time in 1996 and also complied v all visa laws. The new York write-up subsequently repair the date of the Max Magazine issue featuring picture of Melania Trump, and silverlakestyle.com tracked down a copy of the now-defunct magazine at the French nationwide Library. The photos were published in the February 1997 issue, no the January 1996 issue as originally reported by the new York Post.

Nude photographs released this main are elevating fresh questions around the accuracy that a crucial aspect of Melania Trump’s biography: her immigrant status once she an initial came come the United says to work-related as a model.


The racy picture of the would-be very first lady, released in the brand-new York write-up on Sunday and also Monday, inadvertently to mark inconsistencies in the assorted accounts she has listed over the years. And, immigration professionals say, there’s also a slim opportunity that any type of years-old misrepresentations to immigrant authorities could pose legal problems for her today.

While Trump and her husband, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, have said she involved the United states legally, her own statements imply she very first came come the nation on a momentary visa that would certainly not have authorized she to work-related as a model. Trumped has also said she came to new York in 1996, however the nude photo shoot locations her in the United says in 1995, together does a biography released in February by Slovenian journalists.

The inconsistencies come on top of reports through CBS News and GQ Magazine that Trump falsely claimed to have acquired a college degree in Slovenia but could be much more politically damaging since her husband has actually made opposition come illegal immigration the foundation of his presidential run.

Representatives the the trump card campaign and also the Trump organization did not deal with detailed questions around the timing and circumstances the Melania Trump’s arrival in the country, yet campaign spokeswoman expect Hicks responded to the emailed questions by stating, “Melania complied with all applicable laws and also is currently a proud citizen of the joined States.”

In a statement issued hours after silverlakestyle.com published this report, trump reiterated on Thursday that she had been “at all times in compliance through the immigration regulations of this country.” however her declare conspicuously avoids addressing many reports and also photographs that ar her in the united States and working as a model in 1995, and her multiple previous statements that she would return every few months to Europe to renew her visa. (Other news outlets, consisting of Bloomberg View, have also noted the inconsistencies in her account.)


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Melania trump statement ~ above immigration status dodges crucial points


Although she might be a proud citizen, Trump’s own statements indicate she may not have complied with all applicable laws, immigration experts say.

In a January file in Harper’s Bazaar, Trump said she would certainly return residence from new York come renew she visa every couple of months. “It never crossed mine mind come stay right here without papers. That is simply the person you are,” she said. “You monitor the rules. You monitor the law. Every few months you have to fly ago to Europe and also stamp her visa. After ~ a couple of visas, I applied for a green card and also got it in 2001.”

In a February interview through Mika Brzezinski that MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Trump repetitive that characterization of her at an early stage years in the united States. “I never ever thought to stay here without papers. I had actually visa. I travel every couple of months earlier to the country to Slovenia to stamp the visa. I came back. I used for the eco-friendly card. I applied for the citizenship later on.”

The trumped campaign and also Trump organization representatives did not resolve questions around the kind of visa Trump an initial used to enter the country, but it has been widely reported that she came here on one H-1B work-related visa. Writer Mickey Rapkin, that interviewed Melania because that a might profile in the luxury way of life magazine DuJour, claimed she evidenced as lot to him. “When i interviewed Melania, I mentioned that she’d come to brand-new York on the H-1B visa, and also she nodded in agreement,” Rapkin wrote in an email to silverlakestyle.com.

Trump’s story of returning to Europe for periodic visa renewals is inconsistent through her holding an H-1B visa at every times she was living in new York — even if it to be the lesser-known H-1B visa specifically designed because that models — stated multiple immigration attorneys and also experts. One H-1B visa have the right to be valid for three years and can be expanded up to 6 years — sometimes longer — and also would not require renewals in Europe every couple of months. If, together she has actually said, Trump came to new York in 1996 and obtained a green card in 2001, she most likely would no have had to return to Europe also once come renew one H-1B.

Instead, Trump’s summary of her routine renewals in Europe are an ext consistent with someone travel on a B-1 Temporary organization Visitor or B-2 traveler Visa, which commonly last only up to six months and do no permit employment.

If someone to be to get in the United states on one of those visas v the intention of working, it could constitute visa fraud, follow to Andrew Greenfield, a partner at the Washington office of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, a firm that specializes in immigrant law.

“It"s quintessential,” that said. “If you enter the United claims with the on purpose of functioning without authorization and also you present yourself to a border agent at an airplane or a seaport or a manned border and request a visa, also if there is not a Q&A — knowing that you space coming to job-related — you room implicitly, if no explicitly, manifesting the you intend to comply with the parameters the the visa classification for which friend sought entry and also were granted entry."


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“There room quirky exception to human being on a B-1 visa who space able to work-related — particular domestic servants who are entering the nation to accompany their employers who room in the country temporarily,” included Greenfield. “But ns can’t imagine the would apply to models.”

“If Melania to be traveling come the U.S. ~ above a B-1 service visa, there is a potential problem,” claimed a Washington-based companion of a major national immigration regulation firm. “She would not have actually been authorized to job-related in the U.S. While on a B-1 visa. In fact, if a customs agent encounters someone entering the U.S. Top top a B-1 visa and they know that the individual intends to work-related for a U.S. Employer, the individual will generally be refuse admission. In stimulate to stop being sent ago to Slovenia, she may have had to lie about the objective of she trip.”

Visa fraud would call into inquiry a green card application and subsequent citizenship application, said immigration lawyers — therefore raising questions about Melania Trump’s legitimate status, even today, regardless of her marriage to a U.S. Citizen.

Violations of U.S. Visa legislation are hardly unusual, an especially in the modeling industry. It was a usual practice in the 1990s in new York for much less scrupulous organ to bring in international models to occupational illegally on short-lived business and also tourist visas, follow to Sara Ziff, founder the the model Alliance, a group that advocates improved labor criter for fashion models.

The time of Trump’s come in brand-new York stays hazy, and also representatives the the trump card campaign and also Trump organization did not attend to questions around that timing. In a previously unpublished section of an April interview carried out for a file in GQ, Trump called silverlakestyle.com’s Julia Ioffe that she lived through Matthew Atanian, her an initial known roommate in brand-new York, only for a couple of weeks. “I to be busy and I to be traveling a lot. And also then ~ that, after a month of two, I discovered my very own place,” trump card said.

But in one interview for the same profile, Atanian said Ioffe the they common the apartment because that a duration that covered 1995 come 1996, and also Atanian said silverlakestyle.com this week that he and also Trump mutual the apartment because that a complete of a year come a year and also a half. He claimed he recalled Trump leaving the country to travel home for holidays throughout that period.

Trump has actually said she came to brand-new York in 1996, however multiple reports suggest she first started doing work-related there in 1995. Her an individual website was taken down last month in the wake of reports the its biography section falsely credited her v earning a college degree. (Trump tweeted the the website was taken under “because the does not accurately reflect my existing business and also professional interests.”) one archived snapshot of that bio page explains Trump together “settling in brand-new York in 1996,” and also she told Brzezinski in January, “I come to brand-new York 1996.”

But according to “Melania Trump: The inside Story,” a biography released in February by 2 Slovenian authors — reporter Bojan Požar and also publicist Igor Omerza — trump card “began relocating to new York in 1995.” The book also states that Trump first met a close friend, the model modify Molnar, “in new York in the middle of 1995.”

“In 1995 she began coming come the USA follow to the tasks she was gaining at fashion agencies,” created Požar in an e-mail to silverlakestyle.com. “We don’t understand the exact dates of those before she officially cleared up in new York yet her visits before that were temporary business avenues that she had as a model.” Požar said he learned of these first jobs in America from two fashion agents, one in Italy and the other in Vienna, and also that such trips abroad were common for eastern European models but not “technically” legal.

Požar’s time is consistent with the new York Post’s report. The naked photos were taken in new York in 1995 for the January 1996 problem of France’s now-defunct Max Magazine, follow to the tabloid.

Alé de Basseville, the photographer who shot the photos, said silverlakestyle.com the the shoot took place in a exclusive studio near Manhattan’s Union Square. He declined to surname the owner the the studio and said the he encountered Trump v Metropolitan Models, a Paris-based agency with a brand-new York office that was climate representing Trump.

To lug out the 1995 brand-new York picture shoot legally, Trump would have forced a working visa, most likely an H-1B, also if she were no yet living in the unified States, as her aboriginal Slovenia was not part of the State Department’s visa waiver program until 1997.

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Paolo Zampolli, an Italian businessman who was climate a partner in Metropolitan and is credited with sponsoring Trump’s entry right into the unified States and introducing she to she future husband, stated that that did no recall that particular shoot or the specific timing of Trump’s first arrival in brand-new York.


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Zampolli claimed the models he operated with would have entered the nation on one of two people an H-1B or an O-1, a visa because that foreigners who possess “extraordinary ability.” O-1 vi are frequently given come star scientists, athletes and entertainers, but because Melania Knauss (her maiden name) was an obscure model who greatly posed for advertisements and also catalogs in the mid-’90s, it is very unlikely she qualified because that an O-1, i m sorry comes v an early stay period of up to 3 years, claimed immigration attorneys. One O-1 visa would additionally not have forced her to leave the nation periodically.

Zampolli stated he first met trump card in Milan and that models he operated for moved across international boundaries legally. “Every model we represented, we did a visa,” that said. “It’s just part of the rules.”

Even Melania’s usage of the H-1B regime would stand in comparison to she husband’s place today. Trump, who has made his opposition to illegal immigration the centerpiece that his campaign, has likewise vowed come crack under on the usage of H1-B visas together president. In March, he said he would certainly “end forever the use of the H-1B together a cheap job program, and institute an absolute need to rental American workers an initial for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”