According to an investigative report from Politico, recently published nude photos of Melania Trump have revealed, among other things, inconsistencies in her statements about when she first arrived in the United States and under what circumstances.
“It never crossed my mind to stay here without papers. That is just the person you are,” Melania told Harper’s Bazaar in January. “You follow the rules. You follow the law. Every few months you need to fly back to Europe and stamp your visa. After a few visas, I applied for a green card and got it in 2001.” She repeated that version of events to Mika Brzezinski the following month: “I never thought to stay here without papers. I had visa. I travel every few months back to the country to Slovenia to stamp the visa. I came back. I applied for the green card. I applied for the citizenship later on.”
But if Melania was in the United States on an H-1B work visa (as has been reported) she would not have needed to return to Slovenia to “stamp the visa,” given than H-1B visas can be valid up to three years. From Politico:
Instead, Trump’s description of her periodic renewals in Europe are more consistent with someone traveling on a B-1 Temporary Business Visitor or B-2 Tourist Visa, which typically last only up to six months and do not permit employment.
If someone were to enter the United States on one of those visas with the intention of working, it could constitute visa fraud, according to Andrew Greenfield, a partner at the Washington office of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, a firm that specializes in immigration law.
“It’s quintessential,” he said. “If you enter the United States with the intention of working without authorization and you present yourself to a border agent at an airport or a seaport or a manned border and request a visa, even if there is not a Q&A — knowing that you are coming to work — you are implicitly, if not explicitly, manifesting that you intend to comply with the parameters of the visa classification for which you sought entry and were granted entry.”
Melania told Mika Brzezinski that she came to New York City in 1996. (Her now-defunct website gave the same year.) But the nude photo shoot, photographs from which were recently published by the New York Post, took place in 1995. If Melania were on an H-1B, she would have been permitted to participate in the shoot; if she were not, she would have been participating in the shoot illegally.
During a primary debate, Trump admitted to abusing the H-1B visa program to bring in cheap foreign labor for his development projects—this, he said, is how he knows that it is something that should be abolished. In March, Trump said that he would “end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”
Paolo Zampolli, the Italian businessman who was a partner in the modeling agency Melania was working for at the time, told Politico that everything the agency did was above board. “Every model we represented, we did a visa,” he said. “It’s just part of the rules.”
In a statement to Politico, Trump campaign spokeswoman said that “Melania followed all applicable laws and is now a proud citizen of the United States.”