Immigration Dispute Splits WeHo Family

WEST HOLLYWOOD—An alleged clerical error has led to the split of a West Hollywood family of seven.

Sergey Nikitin and Anya Bondareva married in 2008, raising their five children together in the United States. Following their marriage, Nikitin a U.S. citizen, hired a Los Angeles-based immigration consultant to manage Bondareva’s immigration paperwork.

The couple now finds itself an ocean apart from their children after what they claim to be a clerical error.

Bondareva, originally from Russia, is now in the custody of federal authorities after an attempted border crossing from Mexico near San Diego. In what Nikitin is claiming to be a clerical error, Bondareva was awarded a conditional green card instead of a permanent green card, a citizenship status that renders one an illegal immigrant upon the expiration of the visa.

The couple claims to have already successfully traveled in and out of the country this year, believing that the paperwork for a permanent green card had been filed.

The mother of five may now be behind bars for weeks for violating a deportation order Nikitin believes was sent to the couple’s old address. While Bondareva is being held near San Diego, Nikitin is sleeping in a nearby hotel, separated from his children as they stay with relatives in Russia.

Per U.S. Immigration law, Bondareva will likely be deported to Russia. After she is deported, she may request an in-person hearing to obtain her permanent green card.