By Mike Bush
Trenton, MO (KSDK) - Lauren Gray turned 21 on Wednesday but this was a birthday she was not looking forward to.
"All doors are shutting over here," she told NewsChannel 5 last month. "Thousands of doors."
Gray has lived in the small town of Trenton, Missouri since she was just 4-years-old but she was about to deport herself to England.
Her parents own the Lakeview Motor Lodge and Restaurant but they are British citizens, here on an E-2 VISA. Under immigration rules, at the age of 21, Lauren is bumped off their visa and staying in Trenton meant she'd be in the U.S. illegally. She says she applied for her green card more than 10 years ago but right now the wait is more than 11 years.
"We realized that time was getting short," said her mom, Ali Gray. "But we hoped and prayed that it would happen before 2012."
The young dancer, who recently graduated from Stephens College in Columbia flew to Washington, D.C. this past week in a last ditch effort to stay in the country. She met with Senator Claire McCaskill and Wednesday, on her birthday, she got some good news.
"I made a personal call to Janet Napolitano and brought Lauren's situation to her attention and she agreed that it is young women like Lauren we want in the United States of America," said McCaskill on a conference call with the media.
Sen. McCaskill said Gray will be allowed to stay in the United States legally until her green card request works its way through the system. She will get a work visa that is renewable every two years.
"This is the best birthday present ever," said Gray.
Gray doesn't remember living in England, and while she has nothing against the place, she says there's no place like home.