Zahir’s story of persistence: From Afghan refugee to U.S. citizen

The American Dream is a timeless and powerful ideal. The idea that equality of opportunity is available to every U.S. citizen — allowing us to achieve our highest aspirations and goals — inspires us to strive to be our best. It also empowers us to leave our own footprint on our communities, our cities, and our nation.

It’s why so many people around the world dream of obtaining American citizenship … people like Zahir Haidari. This is his story.

When Zahir and his father immigrated to America in 2016, they were refugees. And they were both striving to create successful futures for themselves. “I have always wanted to apply for a U.S. government job,” says Zahir, “but I had to be a U.S. Citizen.”

He and his father knew the journey to become U.S. citizens would be difficult. But as it is with all difficult journeys, they needed to take that important first step: obtaining a green card.

Then they met the BakerRipley Immigration teams, and their lives were changed forever.

“Zahir gained our trust when BakerRipley staff helped him obtain his green card about five years ago,” says Crystal Gonzalez, BakerRipley Manager of Citizenship Services . “The Naturalization process seemed overwhelming to him at first, and he was uncertain where to begin.”

I will not give up and will do everything I can to advocate for all of you.

– Crystal Gonzalez, BakerRipley Manager of Citizenship Services.

But Crystal and the BakerRipley team — empowered by generous donors like you — stepped in to explain the process, clarify his concerns, and represent Zahir and his family throughout the full Naturalization case.

Perseverance & Support

“One of the most complex cases was his father’s,” remembers Crystal. Zahir’s father has a mental disability that made his exam nearly impossible. These exams are a requirement for citizenship. Can you imagine your dreams being locked behind a door through which you simply can’t pass?

But Crystal, Zahir, and his father persevered.

“I recall telling Zahir after the first hurdle in the process, ‘Zahir, I will not give up and will do everything I can to advocate for all of you.'”

Zahir’s father’s case required extensive research, analysis of immigration policies, and advocacy at the adjudicating interview. “If we had not received assistance and support from BakerRipley’s legal team at my father’s Naturalization interview, then I don’t think my father would have been able to get his Naturalization case approved.”

In 2021, Crystal helped Zahir apply for U.S. Citizenship. And in May of 2022, Zahir’s crossed the finish line. He became an U.S. Citizen!

“BakerRipley has helped my family and me so much,” Zahir says.

Today, Zahir works for Interfaith Ministries as a case manager serving the Dari-speaking community. He is enrolled at Houston Community College and wants to major in political science.

“I will always be grateful to BakerRipley,” he says. “Crystal and the team have made a whole new life possible for me and my father.”

Zahir’s story is only possible because of BakerRipley donors. Without generous support, BakerRipley wouldn’t have the programs, resources, and caring employees to create bright futures for men and women every day.

Thank you for being a caring neighbor. Thank you for being a BakerRipley partner. Together, we’re keeping Houston a place of opportunity for every neighbor!