Goldberg: Why is Peter Thiel, a GOP megadonor, buying a Maltese passport?
The answer to that question, it turns out, is not simply a product of the Trump administration. It is tied to a long-running business practice: how American citizens (who contribute to foreign governments) are used to get around American immigration laws.
That practice — a loophole in the law known as a “nonimmigrants visa,” or NIV for short — has been quietly used by GOP megadonors and political donors to secure their favored special treatment in the immigration system since the 1990s.
Among other things, nonimmigrants visas allow noncitizens to be admitted into the United States without having the necessary paperwork. This often makes it easier to avoid inspection of a visa request by law enforcement.
A nonimmigrants visa is not a visa in and of itself, but it is generally described as such in the immigration statute. It’s generally the same category of visas used for people who come to the US to earn a living.
A nonimmigrants visa is a category of visa in the immigration statute, but it isn’t a visa in and of itself. Nonimmigrants visas are generally the same class of visas used for people who come to the United States to earn a living. (Photo: Screenshot)
But nonimmigrants visas, known collectively as NIVs, are sometimes used by wealthy GOP donors and politicians who, for one reason or another, have come to the US with no intention of ever entering the US, or paying for anything.
The practice of using nonimmigrants visas to get around the requirement that US citizens be natural born — which itself is an exception — wasn’t well known until the Trump administration pushed it into the spotlight after the 2016 election, causing a national media outcry.
It was a story that many observers predicted would become an issue for Republican politicians and donors, who had used a loophole for years since the 1990s, but never put it all together in a way that would cause such an uproar.
But that’s what happened.
In a way, their reaction is not surprising: The nonimmigrants visa loophole was always a part of the immigration system for those who donated to GOP politicians. Nowadays, with Trump in the