Melania Trump was a paid model in the United States seven weeks before obtaining the legal permission to work in the country prior and prior to getting a work visa, The Associated Press reported Friday.
Mrs. Trump, who received a green card in March 2001 and became a U.S. citizen in 2006, was paid a total of $20,056 for 10 modeling assignments between Sept. 10 and Oct. 15, 1996, according to Metropolitan International Management accounting ledgers and contracts that were provided to AP.
Trump’s campaign didn’t immediately responded for comment.
Melania Trump’s husband, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, has taken a hard line on illegal immigration, saying, “Anyone who is in the United States illegally is subject to deportation” and calling for an immigration task force. Trump has also made repeated note that federal law prohibits illegally paying immigrants.
The Slovenia-born model (born Melanija Knavs) came to the U.S. on Aug. 27, 1996, on a B1/B2 visitor visa and then obtained an H-1B work visa on Oct. 18, 1996, according to the AP. During that time, her visa allowed her generally to be in the U.S. and look for work but not perform work in the country, making those modeling assignments outside the bounds of her visa.
Melania Trump released a statement in early August firing back at scrutiny over her visa, leading to speculation she came to America illegally.
“In recent days there has been a lot of inaccurate reporting and misinformation concerning my immigration status back in 1996,” she said at the time. “Let me set the record straight: I have at all times been in full compliance with the immigration laws of this country. Period.”
“Any allegation to the contrary is simply untrue. In July 2006, I proudly became a U.S. citizen,” she continued. “Over the past 20 years, I have been fortunate to live, work and raise a family in this great nation and I share my husband’s love for our country.”
Immigration legal expert Andrew Greenfield told Politico that it “could constitute visa fraud” if she entered the country on a temporary visa with the intention of working.