Runaway Teen Convert Gains Legal U.S. Residency

Rifqa Bary listens to the judge during a hearing to settle disputes between her and her parents Tuesday, March 2, 2010, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
AP Photo/Jay LaPrete
A lawyer for a Christian convert who ran away from her parents says the now-18-year-old woman has gained permanent U.S. residency after living in Ohio as an illegal immigrant.

A lawyer for Rifqa Bary said Tuesday the Sri Lanka native can now start applying for a driver's license, Medicaid coverage and college scholarships.

Lawyer Kort Gatterdam says Bary got her permanent residency card last week and can apply for citizenship in five years.

Bary had sought the green card as she argued she could not reunite with her Muslim parents. She alleged they threatened her with harm for converting, and she fled Ohio to stay with a minister in Orlando, Fla.

An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found no credible evidence for a threat of an "honor killing" nor any signs of abuse. Her parents deny she would have been harmed.

Bary also sought legal residency to achieve health coverage as she battles uterine cancer.