Melania Trump Got Her Green Card Through Work, Should You?

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich

When it comes to securing a green card in the United States, marriage is not the only option to consider. Let’s take a closer look at Melania Trump’s path to citizenship, this may shed light on what options may be available to you or your fiancé.

Melania Trump, prior to marrying Donald Trump, was a professional model who entered the U.S. on a work visa. She successfully transitioned from a work visa to a green card under the EB-1 visa category reserved for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in their field. This category allows recipients to bypass some of the more lengthy processes that other green card pathways might require.

Which Path to Choose?

For professional immigrants already in the U.S. on a work visa, transitioning to a green card through employment can be an attractive option. This route highlights an individual’s professional merits, independent of their marital status or personal relationships. It can provide a sense of accomplishment and stability based on one’s own credentials and career achievements. However, the process can be competitive and demanding, requiring proof of extraordinary ability or significant contributions to their field. 

Conversely, obtaining a green card through marriage might be perceived as a more easy and straightforward process, especially if you are already married or engaged to a U.S. citizen. However, it also comes with considerable personal and financial implications. This process involves filing Form I-864, a legally binding affidavit of support wherein the U.S. citizen spouse agrees to financially support the immigrant until they become a U.S. citizen or can be credited with 40 quarters of work (typically 10 years). This responsibility remains in effect even if the marriage dissolves and even if the parties signed a prenuptial agreement, potentially adding a layer of complexity and obligation that doesn’t exist with employment-based applications.

In essence, choosing between an employment-based or marriage-based green card depends on personal and professional factors. Consider working with an immigration attorney to better understand your best course of action. 

Patricia Elizee is the managing partner of the Elizee Law Firm, an immigration law firm located at 1110 Brickell Avenue, Suite 315, Miami, Florida 33131. Phone 305-371-8846. The law firm was established in 2012. Ms. Elizee earned her Juris Doctorate at the University of Miami School of Law and her Masters in Law from the University of Washington School of Law. 

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