Melania Trump's parents get United States citizenship

Amalija and Viktor Knavs

First lady Melania Trump's parents became USA citizens in a naturalization ceremony in NY on Thursday, completing a years-long immigration process even as President Trump has called for new laws to bar Americans from sponsoring parents and other relatives.

Melania Trump - who has been vacationing with her husband U.S. President Donald Trump in Bedminster, N.J. - did not accompany her parents.

A source with direct knowledge of Melania Trump's parents and their immigration status told CNN that Melania Trump sponsored her parents for their green cards, a status that allowed them to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely and paved the way for citizenship.

Viktor Knavs, a vehicle salesman in Slovenia, and Amalija, who worked in a textile factory, are over 70 years old, retired and pass much of the year in the United States, where they regularly spend time with their daughter and grandson Barron. He wouldn't say who sponsored their green cards.

The president in January proposed ending most family-based immigration and replacing it with a skills-based system.

The US allows a number of ways for US citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor family members to come to the US permanently, including categories for parents, adult siblings and adult children, married and unmarried.

Canada has a MERIT-BASED system, while the United States prioritizes more FAMILY-based immigration. Security guards and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services workers in offices adorned with President Trump's portrait said they were unaware of anyone being sworn in there on Thursday.

First lady Melania Trump and mother Amalija Knavs walk to board the Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn of the White House on June 29. A former model known as Melania Knauss, she arrived in NY in 1996 and began dating Trump in 2000.

The couple are natives of Slovenia, where they raised Melania, but have been in the U.S. for more than a decade, says their immigration lawyer, per CNBC.

Viktor, 74, is two years older than President Trump, an immigration hardliner whose zero tolerance policy on illegal border crossings resulted in the separation of more than 2,500 migrant children from their parents.

Trump hasn't commented or tweeted about his in-laws' newfound citizenship.

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