Melania Trump has on numerous occasions defended her husband’s immigration stance on the notion that she immigrated the right way. As you know Donald Trump wants to deport millions and stop undocumented immigrants from entering the United States. As political rhetoric it all sounds nice and easy, until the facts get in the way. The issue is not immigrating the “right way” but that the “right way” is near impossible for millions of immigrants. I would have less of a problem with Donald Trump if he simply said; look I want people to immigrate from certain countries and I want those from Mexico, and other countries, to stop coming here. I may not agree with it but, as a US citizen, Donald Trump can decide that the US only needs certain types of immigrants that meet his criteria.

However, Donald Trump isn’t about to say that because he knows that saying so would be political suicide. Trump knows that verbalizing that targeting Mexican and South American immigrants is the end game, it would hurt the sensibilities of many US voters who pretend all is honkey dory and thus it would lose him votes to articulate what everyone seems to know already. Melania Trump, for her part, has on numerous times told voters that she immigrated the right way. So let’s look at what immigrating to the US, Melania Trump, is like.

Melanija [yes, that is the first name she was born with] Knavs entered the United States on a work permit under a modeling contract. She arrived in the United States in 1996. Knavs, actually Knauss – she Germanized her last name for her modeling career – entered the country on a non-immigrant visa known at the H-1B category. [1] Actually it was the H-1B3 but I’ll get to that in a moment. Regardless, the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa is better known as a work permit. It is not an immigrant visa. It is only a visa allowing the holder to work in the United States under very strict conditions.

The H-1B visa category is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, where immigration to the United States was officially moved away from national origin quotas to quotas based on the needs of the United States economy.

Under the H-1B category, a certain amount of visas are allocated to allow US employers to hire foreign skilled labor. Many of you are aware of the controversies over this immigration program in the technology sector, where programmers from other countries have displaced US-born programmers. There are very strict requirements for a H-1B visa. An applicant must receive a job offer from a US company who will sponsor the applicant’s immigration paperwork. If approved, the immigrant is then issued a work visa for a period not to exceed three years. The visa is intended as a temporary job for the applicant. The visa can be extended for an additional three-year period, for a total of six years. After six years, the temporary immigrant has to leave the US for at least one year before qualifying for another H-1B visa. However, like everything else with the US immigration system, applicants are allowed to make an adjustment to their legal status to remain longer than the six-year limit. For example, they can get married or be in the process of converting to a permanent immigrant, the so-called Green Card.

There are other very important requirements to the H1-B visa process. The sponsoring company must certify that the position that the immigrant will be occupying cannot be filled by a US worker. Arguably, Melania Trump is a fashion model that a US model may not be able to fill, so we’ll move on.

In addition to certifying that that the foreign worker does not displace a US worker, the process requires that the “wages offered to a foreign worker must be the prevailing wage rate” for the job. In other words, no cheap labor. As many tech sector workers will tell you, this is routinely violated, but let’s move on.

There is a quota for these visa. Only 20,000 workers with a masters, or higher degree are allowed in under the program annually. An additional 65,000 who hold bachelor’s degrees are allowed in each year.

Yes, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement, in addition to competing for an annual slot that gets filled up each year. This where Melania Trump fails the first test.

Melania Trump does not hold a college degree because she dropped out of college during her freshmen year. However, the 180 cm (5’11”) model has the body and the poise necessary to model on the fashion runway. Her body allows Melania to bypass the college graduates through a provision known as the H-1B3 subcategory specifically for models. Under the H-1B3 sub-category, a model with a “distinguished” career in modeling may be sponsored by a talent agency or company to come work as a model in the United States.

The H-1B3 category is under which Melania Trump entered the United States in 1996. She entered under a work-permit as a nonimmigrant. Six years later, in 2001, when her H-1B3 visa had reached its time limit, Melania Trump, then Melania Knauss, received her Green Card.

It is unclear at this time under which provision she converted her non-immigrant visa to a resident visa (Green Card) because Melania Trump has not addressed this publicly. Melania Trump is secretive about her past. Melania Trump married Donald Trump in 2005 and became a US citizen in 2006.

In order to immigrate to the US, like Melania Trump, you need to have the looks to be a successful model and a company willing to sponsor you.

But it is not at all what it seems.

The H-1B visa program has been under fire by the Republicans because there are indications that it is routinely abused. Most of the allegations of abuse are centered in the technology sector with US programmers arguing that the H-1B visa program puts pressure on their jobs with lower-wage foreign workers displacing them.

Even Donald Trump initially decried the H-1B visa because of the abuse allegations, only to tone down his attacks on it later in the campaign.

Initially in his campaign Donald Trump argued that the H-1B program “holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult for poor and working class” workers to earn a good wage. During the debates, Donald Trump seemed to soften his stance on the H-1B visa but lately he has once again argued that he would end the program. In March, Donald Trump stated that he wants to end the program.

In essence, if it had ended before 1996, his current wife would not have been able to live and work in the United States for six years because the immigration program under which she came in would not have existed.

But again, all is not what it seems.

Typically, Donald Trump says he will do one thing but actually do the opposite.

Since 2008, the Donald Trump Model Management company has used the H-1B visas, specifically the model sub-category to bring in about 30 foreign models, most from Brazil, China and Latvia. [3]

Apparently, much like the bankruptcy laws are there to be used by successful businessmen, according to Donald Trump, the H-1B visa program is good for bringing in foreign models, I guess.

But what about the notion that the H-1B program unfairly lowers wages for US workers?

According to a lawsuit filed by a former Trump model from Jamaica, although her H-1B visa, sponsored by Trump’s company was to pay her a $75,000 annual salary, her actual take home pay was only $3,380 after three years of working for Trump’s company. [4] According to the court documents over 80% of her salary went to the services provided by Trump’s company.

On one hand, Melania Trump argues that she immigrated the right way, apparently not understanding that she had the unique opportunity to take advantage of a curious loophole in the immigration system to allow her not only to bypass the college degree requirement required by the program but to also jump ahead of many other immigrants. Additionally, under Donald Trump’s stance on the H-1B program, she would not have had the opportunity to immigrate the right way had another politician killed the program, like her husband wants to, before 1996.

Finally, the hypocrisy of Donald Trump. Donald Trump has no problem using the H-1B program for his bottom line, even though he wants to end it because it is unfair to the US work force.

Both Donald and Melania Trump talk out of both sides of their mouths, all for political points.

In tomorrow’s edition, I am going to share with you five things you probably didn’t know about Melania Trump.

1. The New Yorker, Collins, Lauren; “The Model American”; May 9, 2016 Issue
2. PRI’s The World, Koshy, Sheena; “This is what it actually takes to be a ‘legal immigrants’ in the US”; June 22, 2016
3. CNN Money, Ellis, Blake; “Trump’s modeling agency broke immigration laws, attorneys say”; March 10, 2016
4. Forbes, Cam, Deniz; “Trump Model Management Lawsuit Dismissed By Federal Judge”; March 23, 2016

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

7 replies on “Immigrating to the US Melania Trump Style”

  1. Every country has visa requirements of one type or another. It’s so they know who, where, when and control and exiting. What’s unfair about that ? Either the person meets the requirements or not. Heck US citizens are to get a visa/permit to travel away from the border areas of Mexico.

    I don’t buy the point that if a law had existed or not years ago, some people would not be here.100 years, people entered without documentation but that was then. She qualified based on the laws enacted when she applied. Nothing wrong.

    Did take a job from anyone ? Her employment was based on appearance, they were searching a particular look so unless you have that look, no job. I don’t have stats but I would say professionals are imported because of shortages and it’s cheaper. We have shortages because while the rest of the world concentrates on academics, we waste time with social agendas. Knowing that a fellow student is transgender will not qualify you for a job or advanced education. Social skills and values are a family responsibility.

    She lied about being a college grad, so there’s worse. Politicians lying about backgrounds, lying about infidelity, embellishing occurrences(I landed under sniper fire), criminal activity. Does she really need a degree to be a First Lady or a model? Who cares. JFK was loved by everyone and he was sampling the ladies. Did anyone care?

    Unless she has a serious criminal or scandalous past life, let’s leave her alone. Hillary was a First Lady that arrived with a serious and scandalous background.

    We should be more concerned about who could the next President.

  2. And, yes, our quotas limit who comes in. But it isn’t because we fear Latin American immigration. The issue is socioeconomic. Many developed countries don’t only require immigrants to be able to support themselves, they want them to have assets. Many also require degrees to get into the immigration queue. Those with universal healthcare limit the immigration of the old or those with chronic diseases. Why? Because they don’t want to overburden their systems with low skilled folks who will take benefits but not contribute significantly to the tax base. The US like every other developed country with a safety net for their poor and elderly is best served by immigrants who can support themselves, cover emergency expenses and pay taxes. Folks with limited education (as in not even high school) and minimal skills have difficulty doing that. Less developed countries typically have lower per capita education levels and limited safety nets for their poor. Not surprising many folks in those countries see our safety net and employment options as the promised land. Without limits we simply grow our base of low skilled, poorly educated, low or no income population. The fact that many in Latin America feel they have a right to come here illegally, because some how our laws are unfair only exacerbates the issue. Like it or not the Melania Trumps of the world are socioeconomically a good immigration proposition because they contribute more than they take.

  3. You are absolutely and categorically WRONG about H-1B3 visas. According to, “Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is NORMALLY (emphasis mine) the minimum entry requirement for the position.” “Normally” means “Not 100% of the time.” If you’l scroll down the page there, specifically to the H-1B3 section, it doesn’t mention any degree, and CERTAINLY it is not “normal” or “usual” for a modeling agency to require a degree for their models!

    So there’s no need in reading your article past, “a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement.” You’re wrong. You’re factually wrong about something it took me literally under 15 seconds to google, WHICH YOU COULD HAVE DONE, but as facts don’t seem to matter to you, you didn’t care to bother, so I won’t be bothering to read any more links my (not really very) liberal acquaintances give me to your website. Have a nice day.

  4. Oh, and he doesn’t know how to spell “principle” correctly. Obviously, he’s one of those under-educated Hillary voters.

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