Angela Boneva is living in limbo.

For years she, and the U.S. government, thought the Bulgarian-born 34-year-old was an American citizen. But, when she went to renew her passport in 2003, the State Department reportedly told her something terribly different.

Boneva's father was born in Indiana, and the consulate in Bulgaria gave her U.S. citizenship while she was growing up in the country in 1981. She was able to visit relatives in Chicago and eventually move to the area in 1997, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Then in 2003, the married mother of a now 7-year-old U.S.-born boy received a letter from the U.S. State Department saying there was a mistake and she wasn't an American citizen, according to the Tribune.

"I thought it was some kind of joke," she told the Tribune. "I grew up believing I'm an American, and now they want to take that away? This is like a bad dream."

The State Department said in the letter that an employee at the consulate broke a rule that required her father to have lived in the U.S. for 10 years before she was born, the Tribune reported. Her father had only lived in the U.S. for six years before moving to Bulgaria.

The letter also pointed out that that requirement changed in 1986 to five years, meaning that someone in the Boneva's position today would be eligible for U.S. citizenship, but she isn't.

Another letter sent later that year then told her "it does not appear" she qualifies to be a U.S. citizen anymore, the Tribune reported.

Since then, Boneva has made numerous attempts to get he situation cleared up, but has never received a straight answer from the State Department, the Tribune reported.

State Department spokeswoman Adriana Gallegos declined to talk with the Tribune about Boneva's situation, but told the paper in an e-mail, "We don't revoke citizenship, we revoke documents." Gallegos wouldn't specify to the newspaper what that meant for Boneva.

The experience has left Boneva frustrated, and afraid to apply for a new driver's license, look for a new job or even travel to visit her sick grandmother in Rousse on the chance that she could be accused of identity fraud.

"I don't want to go back because I'm afraid it would be a one-way ticket," she told Tribune.

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