Yusuf Nur lived a quiet life, selling fruits and vegetables on the streets of his native Somalia to support his wife and seven children. But in 2006 the Islamic Courts Union (militant factions of which would later form Al-Shabaab) challenged the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and renewed civil war broke out. Amidst the chaos of the war, Yusuf was kidnapped, beaten and tortured, which left him with many injuries. While Yusuf was taken to the hospital, his wife and children ran for their lives to the nation of Djibouti, a small country to the north of Somalia on the Horn of Africa, but they were unable to let Yusuf know where they had gone.
Unsure if his family had found safety or where they were, Yusuf remained in Somalia for two years searching for them before fleeing for his own safety to Egypt. While in Egypt, friends helped the family to reconnect, but they were unable to be reunited or to apply together for the refugee resettlement program. So, In September 2010 Yusuf came alone to the United States as a refugee while his family remained in Africa. Through WRDA he was placed in an apartment with a roommate and assisted to begin the cultural adjustment journey. Although he was in a safer environment, his transition to life in America was difficult.
First was the physical struggle. Still suffering from the results of being tortured in Somalia, he was initially unable to work and had to rely on charitable support to pay rent and bills. The extent of Yusuf's injuries required that he undergo several surgeries. Then there was the emotional struggle. While waiting on physical healing, Yusuf began to learn about the process that would be required in order for his family to join him in the U.S. While he recovered from surgeries, he needed his family, but had to wait.
For Yusuf, like for many refugees, the family unification process can be long and frustrating. In October of 2011 Yusuf was able to apply for his green card with the help of World Relief’s Immigration Legal Services. After applying for his green card, Yusuf applied for reunification with his family, and though the applications were approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service in December of that year, the waiting would continue for another three years as his family went through the requirements of multiple interviews for applicants, medical screenings and the lengthy security screening process for any refugee admitted to the U.S.
Finally in December of 2014, Yusuf was able to greet his family as they arrived in the U.S. They were assisted to find suitable housing and start the adjustment journey again, but this time as a family. After waiting the required year after their arrival, in January 2016 the Immigrant Legal Services team helped the rest of Yusuf's family apply for their green cards. And for Yusuf, who had now been in the United States for the required 5 years and had passed the required tests and interviews, the family was together to celebrate as Yusuf became, in February, a naturalized U.S. Citizen.
“I will always cherish Yusuf’s indescribable joy when I told him that his families’ petitions were approved,” Susan Bachmeier, Immigrant Legal Services Senior Specialist at World Relief said. “Cases like Yusuf’s are the ones that keep me motivated and make me love my job.”