Updated on August 4 at 1:15 p.m.
NEWS BRIEF At the Republican National Convention, Melania Trump recounted how she came to the United States: “After living and working in Milan and Paris, I arrived in New York City 20 years ago, and I saw both the joys and hardships of daily life. On July 28th, 2006, I was very proud to become citizen of the United States...the greatest privilege on planet earth!” But new media reports—on Wednesday from Bloomberg and on Thursday morning from Politico—raise questions about those early years in New York.
Ben Schreckinger and Gabriel Debendedetti report in Politico that the date of a photo-shoot published in the New York Post earlier this week, as well as a number of interviews over the last few months, appear to contradict Trump’s public statements. Trump has repeatedly said that she arrived in the United States in 1996, and returned home to renew her visa every few months. She seemed to confirm in an interview that she came to the United States on a H-1B work visa. But there are discrepancies in those accounts. Politico has more:
Trump’s tale of returning to Europe for periodic visa renewals is inconsistent with her holding an H-1B visa at all times she was living in New York — even if it was the lesser-known H-1B visa specifically designed for models — said multiple immigration attorneys and experts. An H-1B visa can be valid for three years and can be extended up to six years — sometimes longer — and would not require renewals in Europe every few months. If, as she has said, Trump came to New York in 1996 and obtained a green card in 2001, she likely would not have had to return to Europe even once to renew an H-1B.
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.
Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said: “Melania followed all applicable laws and is now a proud citizen of the United States.” On Twitter, Melania Trump posted a statement in response to media reports, notably excluding the year in question:
The statements, though, fail to explain how to reconcile these apparently discrepant accounts—or to clarify how she might have been working in the United States in 1995 without committing visa fraud. In another wrinkle, Melania’s false claim on her website that she received a college degree in Slovenia raises the possibility that she might have claimed the nonexistent degree elsewhere. Bloomberg reports that a “college degree can be an important credential for someone applying for a visa to work in the U.S.”