The former modeling agent of Melania Trump has admitted in an interview that the wife of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump obtained her work visa before she started working professionally in the mid 1990s in the United States.
The development comes to light in the wake of Trump’s comments that highlight inconsistencies with U.S. immigration rules.
In an interview, Paolo Zampolli gave a detailed account of how Trump arrived in the country.
As reported by Politico, Trump’s statements highlight that she arrived in the country on a short term visa, according to which, she would not have been able to work as a model. Zampolli said he had secured a work visa for Trump, who at the time was named Melania Knauss, while he served as a partner at modelling agency Metropolitan Models.
“I know she was not working a paid job before she got the H-1B,” Zampolli said, as reported by ABC News. U.S. companies can secure an H-1B visa for “fashion models of distinguished merit and ability.” People with an H-1B visa are allowed to work and live in the United States for a period of three years beyond which they can renew their visas.
Trump’s visa application was based on her previous work in Paris and Milan, Zampolli said.
“We used whatever she did before to get her a visa,” Zampolli said. “She had enough tear sheets to qualify.”
Another inconsistency can be seen with regards to the year she arrived in the country; whereas she said she came to New York in 1996, her photo shoot and a biography published by Slovenian journalists in February suggests she arrived in 1995.
Trump and her husband Donald Trump claim that she came to the country legally.
Donald Trump’s campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks replied to questions asked over email, saying, “Melania followed all application laws and is not a proud citizen of the United States.”
In a tweet, Trump said she had not violated any immigration rules. “I have at all times been in full compliance with the immigration laws of this country. Period,” she wrote. “Any allegation to the contrary is simply untrue.”
Trump says she arrived in the country in 1996 on a work visa, received her green card in 2001 and earned citizenship in 2006.
— MELANIA TRUMP (@MELANIATRUMP) August 4, 2016