Good Moral Character Reference Letters for Immigration – Samples

A document attesting to someone’s good character is a reference letter written for a friend, colleague, or employee seeking naturalization in which the writer speaks positively about the subject’s qualities and personality.

The reference provider must be sufficiently familiar with the applicant in order for the letter to serve its intended purpose.

Applying to become a citizen of a new country can be a tedious process, requiring extensive paperwork and interviews. For applicants in the United States, an important part of this process is demonstrating in their application that they have been good and upright residents during the period they have been in the country as visa holders or legal permanent residents.

As stated in the USCIS Policy Manual (Part F), for use as part of the naturalization process, “good moral character” implies that an individual’s behavior “measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community in which the applicant resides.”

For a person to be considered law-abiding and moral, it is necessary that they have not committed any severe crimes. Severe crimes, like crimes of moral turpitude, will almost certainly disqualify a person from having good character. Ideally, this condition has a statutory period of five years. This means that the USCIS will thoroughly take into consideration any contravention of the GMC requirement within the last five years before the citizenship application.

However, the USCIS can also consider any period before the five-year statutory period based on its discretion.

What is a Good Moral Character?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles the naturalization process in the United States. They are in charge of assessing all elements of the application. As part of the requirements, applicants must prove that they are of good character before the agency can grant their naturalization request.

For an individual to qualify as having a good moral character, they must have maintained and shown sufficient belief that they will continue to meet the requirements of being a law-abiding member of society. The expectation is not that the applicant should be without sin; the basic requirement is that their character and behavior must meet the standards of the general public in their community.

Typically, a person is considered to have good character if they are trustworthy, respectable, and abide by state and federal laws. The USCIS decides the requirement on a case-by-case basis.

Letter Examples

Free Professional Employee Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template as Word Format

Free Professional community Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template as Word Format

Great Editable Colleague Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template 01 for Word Document

Great Editable Friend Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template 01 for Word Document

Free Professional Longtime Friend Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template as Word Format

Great Editable Friend Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template 02 for Word Document

Example of moral character letter for immigration (free)

Great Editable Colleague Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template 02 for Word Document

Great Editable Friend Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template 03 for Word Document

Free Professional General Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template as Word Format

Great Editable Friend Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template 04 for Word Document

Free Professional Teacher Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template as Word Format

Great Editable Church Member Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template 01 for Word Document

Free Professional Family Member Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template as Word Format

Great Downloadable Church Community Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template as Word File

Great Downloadable Local Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template as Word File

Great Editable Friend Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template 05 for Word Document

Great Downloadable Student Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template as Word File

Great Editable Church Member Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template 02 for Word Document

Great Downloadable HR Executive Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template as Word File

    Need for Letter of Good Character for Immigration

    Some immigration categories do not explicitly require the demonstration of good conduct; however, the immigration officer will still consider it during the evaluation of the application. In applications for immigrant or non-immigrant visas, for instance, specific applicant information—like prior crimes or immigration violations—that constitute grounds for inadmissibility can also be used to assess a candidate’s moral character.

    On the other hand, certain situations specifically require that applicants present a letter of good conduct.

    These situations are discussed below:

    For lawful permanent residents (LPRs)

    The USCIS requires all lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who wish to submit applications for naturalization to provide proof of good character during their time as LPRs in the United States. The requirement means a clean record for the five years (three years if applying as the spouse of a U.S. citizen) preceding the application. Falsifying records can lead to grave consequences, like having entry denied after a trip abroad.

    For USCIS immigration applications

    If an applicant is applying for a U.S. visa due to being a victim of crime or abuse or as a person who has been unlawfully present in the United States and is requesting a waiver of inadmissibility to become eligible for entry again, then it is a requirement to provide proof of good conduct before their application can be approved.

    Immigration cases in court

    In circumstances where deportation or removal from the U.S. is imminent, the individual has several reasons to request that they not be deported. Such applicants may use evidence of their compliance with the law as a form of defense. This proof will help strengthen their case and can help convince the immigration judge to cancel or suspend the order for removal or deportation.

    The judge can convert the deportation order to a voluntary return, which can be a better situation than a forced removal. A deportation order may prevent someone from coming to the U.S. for up to ten years or make them ineligible for certain immigration benefits. In the event of a voluntary departure, they may be able to return to the U.S. much sooner.

    When is a Certificate of Good Conduct not Needed

    As surprising as it may seem, not only do certain situations not require a character certificate, but providing such proof in these situations can be detrimental to the application for naturalization.


    If an individual’s application for naturalization is based on major mental abuse or trauma, presenting evidence of significant accomplishments during the period of abuse can damage the applicant’s case.

    A person who applies for asylum after failing to do so within a year of arriving in the country would further weaken their case if they provided evidence of other commitments made during their stay in the country. In these instances, putting more emphasis on the obstacles and traumas they have faced and explaining why they must continue to live in the United States will be more beneficial.

    When seeking asylum in the United States, it is not necessary to prove good character. Rather than wasting time trying to prove this, an applicant should focus more on gathering other evidence that would specifically help the asylum request.

    Whether or not the applicant must provide a certificate of good conduct depends on the category of the immigration application. Preparing this document requires effort and resources. That is why it is highly advised that the applicant find out the requirements for their immigration application before devoting their resources to obtaining this document.

    Obstacles to Qualifying as a Person of Good Moral Character

    A criminal history and involvement in particular undesirable activities can be barriers to a person’s application for citizenship. Depending on the gravity of the crime, these roadblocks can cause a delay or a permanent ineligibility of the applicant’s request for naturalization and can even be enough grounds for deportation. These crimes are mostly crimes of turpitude, i.e., crimes that indicate depravity or a willful lack of morality.

    USCIS cites the following behaviors as examples of those that could be barriers to being unable to prove good character:

    • Aggravated felony conviction
    • Chronic drunkenness
    • Contravention of Controlled Substance Act
    • Crimes against a human with intent to harm
    • Defaulting on court-mandated child support or alimony payments
    • Duplicitous green card activity or falsification of evidence to obtain an immigration benefit
    • Failure to enlist with the U.S. Selected Service System when required
    • Gambling offenses
    • Pending probation, parole, or suspended sentence
    • Prostitution
    • Shoplifting or pilfering
    • Trafficking aliens into the United States
    • Jail sentence of up to 180 days during the past five years
    • Individuals with a murder conviction can never become citizens of the United States. In addition, persons convicted of aggravated felonies like armed robbery, drug trafficking, child pornography, bribery, etc., are also permanently barred from becoming U.S. citizens.

    How to Demonstrate Good Conduct for Immigration Purposes

    If the immigration application requires proof of good character, the burden is on the applicant to overcome any obstacles that may cause a delay in the process. An applicant with a minor crime on their record may consider waiting until the five-year statutory period is over. In addition to the statutory period, the individual must also demonstrate improved behavior.

    He can do that through the following means:

    • A personal statement from the applicant describing their life, work, family, and volunteer activities
    • Letter from the applicant’s religious organization describing their participation and importance for the community
    • Reference letter from employer attesting to their work ethic
    • Reference letter from places where the applicant has volunteered

    These documents should provide detailed examples of the applicant’s good conduct and contribution to society.

    In addition to the above, being completely honest and thorough during the application process and the interview with USCIS personnel is also important for the immigration application. On the other hand, not telling the truth can cause additional problems, and will most definitely indicate a lack of morality.

    How to Write a Letter of Good Moral Character for Immigration Purposes

    You might find yourself faced with the important task of writing a letter for a friend, an associate, or a family member to support their immigration application. The writer must compose a detailed and convincing document to attest to the applicant’s good character.

    The guide below provides valuable instructions on how to write it:

    Give appropriate introduction

    The writer should indicate the date they wrote it to help give the recipient an idea of how recent the document is. An appropriate appellation should appear at the start of the letter. The first paragraph should include a brief background about the writer, how long they have known the applicant and their relationship.

    Mention the applicant’s good conduct

    The writer can dedicate the next one or two paragraphs to describing the applicant’s personality and the remarkable qualities they possess. The descriptions need to be specific, and examples should be included if necessary.


    How the applicant has helped the writer in some way—their helpful nature, volunteer activities, etc.

    The examples should serve to convince the recipient of the goodness of the applicant.

    Include other aspects

    Family ties are highly regarded in the United States, and it is often because of this reason that many individuals seek citizenship. Depending on the applicant’s personal situation, the writer may describe their family and the close bond they share with their spouse and children.

    Describe the nature of the relationship

    A description of the relationship with the applicant can also be provided. This can help provide more credibility and reassure the immigration officer that the writer indeed knows the applicant very well.


    If the writer is an employer of the applicant or if the applicant had worked for them in the past, then they can discuss the working relationship, details of the employment, the responsibilities of their position, their skills, work ethic, integrity, etc.

    Conclude by complimenting the applicant

    In conclusion, the applicant should be complimented and their eligibility for citizenship should be reiterated. It should express gratitude to the recipient for the consideration of the application, followed by a statement indicating the willingness and availability to provide more information if needed.

    The sender’s full name and contact information must also be provided. Though not required, it is a good idea to notarize the letter. This serves to further verify the identity and signature of the writer.

    Letter of Good Moral Character Template

    [Your Name]

    [Your Address]

    [City, State, Zip Code]

    [Phone Number]

    [Email Address]


    [Recipient’s Name]

    [Recipient’s Title/Position]

    [Organization’s Name]

    [Organization’s Address]

    [City, State, Zip Code]

    Subject: Letter of Good Moral Character for [Name of the Person]

    Dear [Recipient’s Name],

    I am writing to you in my capacity as [Your Position/Relationship to the Person] to vouch for the good moral character of [Name of the Person], whom I have known for [Number of Years/Months]. My association with [Name of the Person] in various capacities has provided me with ample opportunities to observe and evaluate their moral and ethical standards.

    Throughout the time I have known [Name of the Person], they have consistently demonstrated qualities and behaviors that epitomize good moral character, including honesty, integrity, responsibility, and empathy towards others. [Name of the Person]’s actions and decisions are always guided by a strong moral compass, and they consistently show respect for individuals from all walks of life.

    [Provide specific examples or anecdotes that demonstrate the person’s moral character. These should be tangible instances that highlight their integrity, community involvement, or positive impact on others.]

    [Name of the Person] has also been actively involved in [mention any community service, volunteer work, or other activities], further showcasing their commitment to making a positive contribution to their community and helping those in need.

    It is my firm belief that [Name of the Person]’s moral character is of the highest caliber. Their ethical standards and personal integrity make them an exemplary individual, one whom I can recommend without any reservations. [Name of the Person] would be a valuable addition to any organization, community, or situation that requires a person of good moral character.

    Please feel free to contact me at [Your Contact Information] should you require any further information or clarification regarding [Name of the Person]’s character and qualifications.

    Thank you for considering my letter of recommendation. I am confident that [Name of the Person] will continue to demonstrate the same exemplary qualities and moral integrity in all their future endeavors.


    [Your Signature (if sending a hard copy)]

    [Your Name]

    [Your Position/Relationship to the Person]

    Sample Letters

    SAMPLE 1

    Subject: Letter of Good Moral Character for John Doe

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am writing to support the application for the naturalization of Mr. John Doe, whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for the past five years as a close family friend and community member. It is with great respect and admiration that I vouch for John’s moral character and his suitability to be granted citizenship in the United States.

    John has been an exemplary figure in both our local community and in his professional endeavors. His integrity, honesty, and respect for others stand out as his most commendable qualities. I have witnessed John go out of his way to assist neighbors, participate in community clean-ups, and volunteer at local food banks. His commitment to contributing positively to our community is a testament to his good character and values.

    Moreover, John has demonstrated a profound respect for the laws and customs of the United States since his arrival. He has taken every opportunity to immerse himself in American culture, while also sharing aspects of his own heritage, fostering a sense of multicultural understanding and respect among his peers. John’s dedication to learning about and adhering to the principles that define this country is truly admirable.

    His work ethic is unparalleled, consistently demonstrating responsibility and professionalism in his job as a software engineer. John’s employers and colleagues speak highly of his contributions, not only in terms of his technical skills but also his ability to collaborate, mentor, and contribute to a positive work environment.

    John’s moral compass, combined with his dedication to family, friends, and community, make him an ideal candidate for U.S. citizenship. His actions continually reflect a deep-seated belief in the core values and responsibilities that come with being a citizen of this great nation.

    I am confident that John Doe will uphold the duties and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship with the utmost respect and integrity. I wholeheartedly support his application and look forward to the positive contributions he will continue to make as an American citizen.

    Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further information or clarification regarding my recommendation of John Doe.

    Thank you for considering my letter of support.


    Maria Gonzalez

    Sample 2

    Subject: Letter of Good Moral Character for Elena Rodriguez

    To Whom It May Concern,

    I am writing on behalf of Ms. Elena Rodriguez, with whom I have had the distinct pleasure of working over the past seven years at Harbor Community Center in San Diego, California. As the Director of the center, I have witnessed first-hand the positive impact Elena has had on our community and the dedication she has shown towards making a difference in the lives of those around her.

    Elena’s involvement in our community outreach programs, especially those aimed at supporting underprivileged families and immigrants, speaks volumes of her character and moral standing. Her commitment to these causes has been unwavering, demonstrating a deep sense of empathy, responsibility, and a strong ethical compass. Elena has not only contributed her time but has also played a pivotal role in planning and executing various initiatives that have benefited hundreds of individuals and families.

    Moreover, Elena’s conduct has always been exemplary. She has shown great respect for cultural diversity, legal norms, and the principles that guide our society. Her interactions with others are marked by kindness, respect, and an understanding demeanor, making her a role model for many in our community.

    In light of her application for re-entry, it is important to highlight Elena’s genuine remorse and learning from past mistakes. Since the incident that led to her departure, Elena has taken conscious steps towards personal and professional growth. She has actively sought out educational opportunities, participated in community service, and has become an advocate for positive change. Her actions consistently demonstrate a commitment to living by the highest moral and ethical standards.

    I firmly believe that Elena Rodriguez is more than deserving of the opportunity to re-enter and contribute to our community in a meaningful way. Her moral character, combined with her dedication to service and personal growth, underscores her readiness to be a positive and contributing member of society once again.

    Should you require any further information or wish to discuss Elena’s character and contributions in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact me at the number or email provided above.

    Thank you for considering this letter in support of Ms. Elena Rodriguez’s eligibility for re-entry. I am confident that she will continue to uphold the values and standards that define our community and nation.


    Thomas Elliot

    Director, Harbor Community Center

    Sample 3

    Subject: Letter of Good Moral Character for Carlos Rivera

    Honorable Judge Malik,

    I am writing this letter in support of Mr. Carlos Rivera, whose immigration case is currently under your esteemed jurisdiction. My name is Jessica Patel, and I am a community organizer at the Lincoln Park Community Services in Chicago, where I have had the privilege of working alongside Carlos for the past three years.

    Carlos has been an integral part of our team, dedicating his time and efforts to various community outreach programs. His commitment to serving those in need, particularly in projects focused on homelessness and youth mentorship, has been nothing short of exemplary. Carlos consistently demonstrates compassion, integrity, and a deep sense of responsibility in all his endeavors.

    Beyond his contributions to community service, Carlos embodies the qualities of a person of good moral character in his daily life. He is respectful, honest, and consistently upholds the values of fairness and kindness in his interactions with others. Carlos has shown a profound respect for the law and the principles of justice, guiding his actions with a strong ethical compass.

    I have witnessed Carlos’s positive impact not only on the community we serve but also on the people around him. He is a role model to many, inspiring others with his dedication and moral integrity. His efforts have not only provided tangible aid to those in need but have also fostered a sense of hope and community solidarity.

    Carlos’s situation is undoubtedly challenging, but I firmly believe that his character and actions reflect those of a person who is an asset to our community and society at large. His dedication to making a positive difference, his respect for the law, and his unwavering moral values are qualities that speak volumes of his character.

    I respectfully request that Carlos’s contributions, character, and the positive impact he has had on our community be taken into consideration in your evaluation of his case. It is my sincere belief that Carlos Rivera is deserving of a favorable outcome, allowing him to continue his valuable work and life here in the United States.

    Should you require any further information or wish to discuss Carlos’s character and contributions in more detail, please feel free to contact me at the number or email provided above.

    Thank you for considering my letter in support of Mr. Carlos Rivera. I am confident that his continued presence in our community will only bring about further positive change and contributions.


    Jessica Patel

    Community Organizer, Lincoln Park Community Services

    Key Takeaways

    These sample letters are well-written and effective for several reasons:

    Clear Structure: Each letter follows a clear and professional structure, including a subject line, salutation, body paragraphs, and a closing statement. This organization ensures that the information is presented in a logical and coherent manner, making it easy for the reader to follow.

    Specific Details: The writers provide specific examples and details to support their claims about the individual’s character and contributions. These examples add credibility to the letters and help paint a vivid picture of the person being recommended.

    Professional Tone: The tone of the letters is formal, respectful, and courteous throughout. This professionalism enhances the credibility of the writers and reflects positively on the individuals they are recommending.

    Relevance to the Purpose: Each letter directly addresses the purpose for which it is written, whether it’s supporting an application for naturalization, re-entry, or an immigration case. This ensures that the content remains focused and relevant to the reader’s needs.

    Personal Connection: The writers establish a personal connection with the subject of the letter, highlighting their relationship and familiarity with the individual’s character and actions. This personal touch adds sincerity and authenticity to the recommendations.

    Positive Outlook: Despite addressing potentially sensitive matters, such as past mistakes or legal proceedings, the letters maintain a positive outlook. They focus on the individual’s strengths, contributions, and potential for positive impact, rather than dwelling on past shortcomings.

    Overall, these letters effectively convey the writers’ support and endorsement of the individuals in question, making compelling cases for their character and suitability for the intended purpose.

    Free Templates

    Professional Editable Friend Immigrant Character Reference Letter Template 06 for Word Document

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      Final Thoughts

      The demonstration of good moral character is an essential component of a citizenship application. A letter of good conduct written with clarity, precise details, and examples is more likely to get the desired result. It can tremendously help a friend, employee, or colleague with their application. Additionally, since demonstrating good conduct is a lengthy process that requires deliberate planning and execution, it is crucial that prospective citizens carefully review the requirements for naturalization and begin working toward them.

      About This Article

      Megan Morgan
      Authored by:
      Graduate Program Academic Advisor
      Megan Morgan is an expert in the field of teaching and serves as a Graduate Program Academic Advisor at the University of Georgia's School of Public & International Affairs. She holds a PhD in English, which she earned from the University of Georgia in 2015. With her extensive knowledge and experience, Megan provides valuable guidance and support to graduate students, ensuring their academic success and professional development.

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