An "Anglophile" Oxford university graduate who moved to Britain from the Ukraine at the age of 13 has won her appeal against Home Office deportation.
Eleonora Suhoviy does not know if she can ultimately stay in the UK
Eleonora Suhoviy, 24, from Lincoln, won the decision at the Asylum and Immigration Appeal Tribunal in London.
The secretary of state has five days to appeal against the decision.
The tribunal heard how the graduate, who is backed by several public figures, wanted to join the Royal Navy and "preserve the British way of life".
Her campaign to stay in Britain has been supported by former government ministers Michael Howard and Lord Carrington and the broadcaster Jeremy Paxman.
Her victory came on the same day as Prime Minister Tony Blair launched a plan to increase the number of overseas students in Britain.
Miss Suhoviy came to Lincolnshire on a six-month tourist visa at the age of 13 in 1994.
She was unable to speak English but taught herself by reading Sherlock Holmes novels.
Miss Suhoviy was originally due to be deported in 1999 but went on to complete a degree at Oxford University.
Miss Suhoviy's lawyer, Jonathon Goldberg QC, argued that the exceptional circumstances of the case meant she should be allowed to stay in the country.
He told the tribunal how his client "has shown herself a committed Anglophile who wished to protect the British way of life with a career in the Royal Navy".
Mr Goldberg said: "This is a very worthy example of British youth. She should be allowed to stay to fulfil her ambitions of becoming a Royal Navy officer."
He said she was "an asset to this country".
The barrister also described the support given to her by public figures such as Lord Carrington, Michael Howard and Jeremy Paxman.
Miss Suhoviy is currently working as a PA to cancer doctors at Oxford's John Radcliffe hospital and plans to embark on post-graduate studies once her immigration status is settled.
Mr Goldberg said: "We hope and believe that the home secretary will turn over a new leaf and give this very meritorious girl hope and consideration."
After the hearing Miss Suhoviy said she was "very relieved".
"I am also very grateful for all the support from everyone, from the press and the general public," she added.
A Home office spokeswoman said: "We are considering the verdict of the tribunal. We cannot comment on an individual case."