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Nigerian student granted residency in U.S.

Dec. 29, 2012 at 6:26 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a rare measure granting a Nigerian native permanent residency in the United States.

Victor Chukwueke, who lives in Michigan on an expired visa, was granted his green card Friday when Obama signed a private bill passed by Congress earlier this month, CNN reported.

Chukwueke, 26, arrived in Michigan when he was 15 to undergo treatment for massive life-threatening tumors on his face; he suffers from the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis.

Chukwueke stayed in Michigan to attend college. He now plans to move to Ohio to attend medical school, which would not have been possible without permanent residency.

Private bills -- which only apply to one person and mostly focus on immigration -- are uncommon.

"I was overwhelmed with joy; it was nothing less than a miracle," Chukwueke said. "Only in this country can so many miraculous and wonderful things happen to someone like me."

Chukwueke received help from a number of strangers, including Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, who sponsored the private bill, and attorney Thomas K. Ragland took his case pro bono.

"Victor's story is remarkable," said Ragland, who is based in Washington D.C. "Here is this kid who comes from Nigeria, he was taunted and teased for his diseases, and he comes to this country and excels, despite so many surgeries. It is a testament of not letting anything get in the way."

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