Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Meet the newest US citizens: Melania Trump's parents

Meet the newest US citizens: Melania Trump's parents

Viktor, right, and Amalija Knavs arrive to take the oath of citizenship with their attorney Michael Wildes in New York, Thursday, August 9.

Melania Trump, originally from Slovenia, sponsored her parents so they could obtain a green card before applying for USA citizenship.

Lawyer Michael Wildes said the Knavses applied for citizenship on their own and didn't get any special treatment.

Since initial reports emerged in February that the Knavses had obtained permanent residency in the United States, there has been a lack of clarity about when or how the couple received green cards.

Homeland Security Police also escorted the Knavs both in and out of the ceremony, which was held at a federal building in Manhattan.

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website, an average naturalisation application in NY takes between 11 and 21 months and is dependent on numerous character and residency requirements. He wouldn't say who sponsored their green cards.

Trump has taken a hardline on immigration policy, criticizing so-called main migration that allows naturalized USA citizens to sponsor close relatives for permanent residency.

The Knavses' lawyer said their ceremony was kept private for "security reasons".

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She settled in NY in 1996 and met Mr. Trump two years later.

Melania grew up in a two bedroom apartment in Sevnica, a small city formerly under communist control.

Amalija is 73. The first lady, born Melanija, changed her name to Melania Knauss when she started modeling.

President Trump has campaigned against family-based or so-called "chain" immigration in the past.

It is not infrequently the site of protests, but on Thursday, things were quiet as the first lady's parents came and went.

He maintains there should instead be a merit-based system, which prioritises professionals over relatives, and has drawn censure for his strident attacks on immigration laws and immigrants.

News of the ceremony prompted an immediate response on Twitter, with tweets ranging from "welcome!" to "unfreakingbelievable". One for the people who have no power, and one for the people who we are letting in through the VIP entrance.

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