Melania Trump’s parents are living legally in the US as permanent residents, the first lady’s lawyer says, but won’t reveal how or when they obtained their green cards.
Lawyer Michael Wildes said Slovenian nationals Viktor and Amalija Knavs “are both lawfully admitted to the United States as permanent residents”.
Mr Wildes declined further comment, including discussing when the couple would be eligible for citizenship or how their permanent residency was obtained.
It is believed Mr and Mrs Knavs relied on a family reunification process to obtain their green cards – a process President Trump proposed ending in his hard-line anti-immigration agenda.
He previously derided the immigration process as “chain migration”, endorsing legislation that would prevent immigrants from sponsoring their parents and only allow them to sponsor spouses and minor children.
“I can confirm that Mrs Trump’s parents are both lawfully admitted to the United States as permanent residents,” Mr Wildes said.
“The family, as they are not part of the administration, has asked that their privacy be respected so I will not comment further on this matter.”
A spokeswoman for the first lady says the Knavs “are not part of this administration and deserve their privacy”.
Melania Trump came to the United States from Slovenia in 1996 for modelling work on a visitor’s visa and then a work permit.
In 2000, Mrs Trump self-sponsored herself for residency on the basis of her “extraordinary ability” as a model. She received a green card that granted her permanent residency in 2001 and became a US citizen in 2006.
The Washington Post first reported the Knavs’ immigration status.
It reports the Slovenian couple are awaiting a date for their swearing-in ceremony.
In the United States, legal permanent residents must live in the country continuously and have held green cards for at least five years.