Washington: Melania Trump was paid for 10 modeling jobs in the United States worth USD 20,056 that occurred in the seven weeks before she had legal permission to work in the country, according to detailed accounting ledgers, contracts and related documents from 20 years ago.
The details of Mrs Trump's early paid modeling work in the US emerged in the final days of a bitter presidential campaign in which her husband, Donald Trump, has taken a hard line on immigration laws and those who violate them.
Trump has proposed broader use of the government's E-verify system allowing employers to check whether job applicants are authorized to work.
Mrs Trump, who received a green card in March 2001 and became a US citizen in 2006, has always maintained that she arrived in the country legally and never violated the terms of her immigration status.
The wife of the GOP presidential nominee has said through an attorney that she first came to the US from Slovenia on August 27, 1996, on a B1/B2 visitor visa and then obtained an H-1B work visa on October 18, 1996.
The documents obtained by the AP show she was paid for 10 modeling assignments between September 10 and October 15, during a time when her visa allowed her generally to be in the US and look for work but not perform paid work in the country.
It is highly unlikely the discovery will affect the citizenship status of Mrs Trump. The government can seek to revoke the US citizenship of immigrants after the fact in cases when it determines a person willfully misrepresented or concealed facts relevant to his naturalization.
But it effectively does this in only the most egregious cases, such as instances involving terrorism or war crimes.
The disclosures about the payments come as Mrs. Trump takes on a more substantial role advocating for her husband's candidacy. She made her first speech in months Thursday, in which she spoke of her time working as a model in Europe and her decision to come to the US.
The documents obtained by the AP included ledgers, other accounting documents and a management agreement signed by Mrs Trump from Metropolitan International Management that covered parts of 1996 and 1997.
The AP obtained the files this week after seeking copies since August from employees of the now-defunct modeling firm, after Mrs Trump made comments earlier this summer that appeared inconsistent with US immigration rules.
A New York immigration lawyer whom Mrs Trump asked to review her immigration documents, Michael J Wildes, reviewed some of the ledgers at AP's request. Wildes said in a brief statement that "these documents, which have not been verified, do not reflect our records including corresponding passport stamps."