The Knavses have a relatively high profile for presidential in-laws. They frequently travel with the Trumps and split their time between New York, Palm Beach and Washington, where they stay in the White House.
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. And unless the couple themselves divulge the timeline of their citizenship process, the applications and petitions are protected by privacy law.
Under immigration statutes, the Knavses would have needed to have their green cards for at least five years in order to apply for citizenship, along with fulfilling character, residency and civic knowledge requirements. The time to process an application for naturalization in New York City typically ranges from 11 to 21 months, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Their lawyer said that the couple had met the five-year requirement, but added, “I can’t give further comment.”
The president often rails against family-based immigration at his rallies, and has called it a pathway for terrorists to enter the country. He frequently reminds his audiences of the October terror attack in New York, where Sayfullo Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, plowed a pickup truck down a bike lane, killing eight people near the World Trade Center. While the president never names Mr. Saipov, who obtained his green card through the equally maligned diversity lottery, which grants visas to people from countries that have had fewer immigrants, he has been known to detail the attack.
“He said, ‘Hey look, there’s people, nice people, they’re relaxing, some are jogging,’” Mr. Trump said during a rally last week in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., lamenting the lives lost and those who were injured. “He decides to kill them.”
“They lost arms. They lost limbs. They lost so much. They lost their life. But they lost so much,” Mr. Trump added. “So, we have to change this and we’re going to change it.”