Obama signs bill to grant Nigerian student U.S. permanent residency

Victor Chukwueke (second from the left) is shown with his surgeon, Dr. Ian Jackson, the doctor's wife and the nun who has cared for him since he came to the United States.

Story highlights

  • Victor Chukwueke's visa expires after he comes to the U.S. for treatment of face tumors
  • He plans to attend an Ohio medical school that requires him to have a green card
  • A Michigan senator introduces a private bill to grant him a green card
  • In a rare act, Congress passes the bill this month
A Nigerian immigrant's dream came true when President Barack Obama signed into law a rare private bill granting him permanent residency in the Unites States.
Victor Chukwueke, who lives in Michigan on an expired visa, came to the United States 11 years ago to undergo treatment for massive face tumors.
He graduated from a university in the state, and plans to attend an Ohio medical school that requires him to have permanent residency, also known as a green card.
In a rare act, the United States Congress passed a private bill this month granting him permanent residency. Obama signed the bill Friday.
Private bills -- which only apply to one person and mostly focus on immigration -- are rarely approved. His is the only one to pass in Congress in two years.
"I was overwhelmed with joy; it was nothing less than a miracle," the 26-year-old says. "Only in this country can so many miraculous and wonderful things happen to someone like me."
Before coming to the United States at age 15, Chukwueke lived in the southeastern Nigeria town of Ovim.
Victor Chukwueke attends his graduation at Wayne State University, where he served as commencement speaker.
He suffers from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes massive life-threatening tumors on his face.
Treated as an outcast because of his deformed face, he was depressed and humiliated, he says. His family abandoned him at an orphanage after taking him to the nation's best facilities for treatment.
"I went to a large teaching hospital in Nigeria and the doctor touched my face and said there was nothing they could do," he says. " I cried and begged him to do something. I was so tired of the humiliation."
Nuns from the Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy rescued him from the orphanage in 2001 and arranged for a Michigan doctor to perform surgery on him.
He considers himself lucky to have developed the tumors.
"Without them, I would not have met the nun, left Nigeria, arrived in the U.S. and had the miracle to attend medical school," he says.
He lives with the nuns in Oak Park, Michigan. They have cared for him s