Immigration Reference Letter (Samples & Templates)

The immigration process for any country is often long and challenging. Applicants often need to prove financial stability, good character, and how they can contribute positively to society. This proof is often given in many ways, including reference letters. Often, the writer of the letter is a person who can speak to the character and good morals of the applicant. They could be a family member, expert, or employer. The writer should be of good reputation and a law-abiding citizen of the US.

Since the letter is presented as part of the application documents, it has to portray the applicant well. Further, since there are different reasons for writing it, the writer of the letter has to be one who can give evidence proving the applicant’s good morals in the present circumstances.


If it is immigration for employment purposes, it would be best if the writer were the applicant’s former employer.

The letter’s focus should be to portray the applicant as a potentially productive member of society. The writer can express the applicant’s qualities and highlight their future job prospects by making the letter emotional to induce positive sentiments among the immigrant judges.

This article will discuss what an immigration reference letter is and how to prepare one. It also addresses certain types and a sample letter to help you write your own.

A reference letter is an official document recommending an applicant seeking immigration status in a country.

As part of the application, potential immigrants often prefer to include a recommendation letter from a close friend, family member, or former employer. They are the best-positioned people to discuss the applicant’s good character. However, since immigration is an official process, the letter must be written formally. It should exemplify positive characteristics like reliability, ethics, and hard work. 

In addition, the letter should show what positive contribution the applicant can make to the country, should their application be allowed. Beyond personality traits, the letter may also highlight the future contributions a potential immigrant may make. The essence of the letter is to influence the court’s decision to favor the applicant.

Types of Character Reference Letters for Immigration

People immigrate for different reasons; therefore, you need to understand why the applicant is applying for immigration before you write your letter. Some of these reasons include; education, deportation proceedings, status adjustment, immigration employment, permanent residency, proof of relationship, evidence of physical and emotional abuse, and to provide proof of actual harm that a person seeking asylum may experience if their application is denied.

You also need to understand the capacity in which you are writing the letter so you can customize it to the applicant’s needs.

The following are some types of reference letters you may be requested to write:

Immigration reference letter for a friend

This letter is used when writing on behalf of a friend seeking advanced permission to enter as an immigrant. It may also be used when the applicant seeks entry into a country for business, education, or tourism purposes. Regardless of why you write it, you should portray the applicant’s good character and high moral standards.

This letter should include information about their character, work ethic, and any relevant skills or qualifications. It should also include the length of time you have known them, your relationship with them, and your contact information.

Additionally, you should explain why you believe they would be a valuable addition to the country they hope to immigrate to. Often, you may have to fill out an affidavit supporting the application on Form I-864.

Following are reference letter templates for a friend:

Great Friend Reference Letter Template 01 for Word Document
Great Friend Reference Letter Template 02 for Word Document

    Immigration reference letter for a family member

    The applicant needs to submit particular forms when making their application. Suppose it is an application for an adjustment of status. In that case, they need Form I-485, an application to register permanent residence or adjust status; Form I-130, a petition for an alien relative; and Form I-864, an affidavit supporting the application.

    When writing a letter for a family member, you should know why the requestor wants you to write it. It may be for deportation proceedings or even bond release. In such cases, you may tailor your letter to explain why the requestor needs to stay in the country by listing their redeeming qualities. Also, explain and provide the history of your relationship with the applicant. This allows you to lay the basis for highlighting the applicant’s best qualities.

    The following are reference letter templates for family members: 

    Great Family Member Reference Letter Template 01 for Word Document
    Great Family Member Reference Letter Template 02 for Word Document

      Immigration reference letter for an employee

      This letter is used when applying for a work visa. When writing it, you should highlight the applicant’s career achievements and their redeeming qualities as an employee. Additionally, you should mention their job title, salary, duties, and dates of employment. If you are an expert in their area of employment, you can mention how their employment record will benefit their future employer. You can also list the beneficial skills the requestor has demonstrated.

      Following are reference letter templates for an employee: 

      Great Employee Reference Letter Template 01 for Word Document
      Great Employee Reference Letter Template 02 for Word Document

        Preparing to Write an Immigration Reference Letter

        Before writing the immigration letter, you must consider factors such as the type of proceeding, the other supporting documents, and the recommended format you should use.

        Since your letter speaks to the requestor’s character, you should consider the following important points to ensure you write comprehensively:

        Step 1: Understand the kind of immigration proceeding

        Applicants seek these letters for different reasons; therefore, you should know the type of proceedings in which your letter will be used before writing it. For example, suppose you are drafting a letter for bond release. In that case, you should explain how the requester is a peaceful member of society and that they are a law-abiding individual.

        Step 2: Talk to the requestor

        You need to consult the requestor on the details they may want to include. Since the letter is part of other documents that a judge will peruse, you should ensure the contents of it align with any other proof submitted. This justification is essential, as it supports the requestor’s case.

        Pro tip

        Ask the applicant to provide you with a copy of their resume and background information so that you can use it to write your letter. This will help you align your letter with other details in the requestor’s application. 

        Step 3: Draft and sign the letter

        Once you understand the nature of the proceedings and the information the requestor might want you to highlight, you can draft the letter. With a complete draft, you can review it and check whether the pointers you identified before writing are included. Once you are satisfied, you can then sign the letter.

        Step 4: Find sample letters or examples

        If you are unsure whether your letter will be effective, you can still look for other samples to guide you on the general format, structure, and language you can use. You can also revise it to conform to the most popular structure.

        We have provided free templates that you can refer to before you start writing yours. They can guide you in writing one for family or a friend. 

        How to Write a Reference Letter for Immigration

        Once you have all the crucial information, you can begin writing your letter. One of your most significant considerations should be its language and flow. You should ensure your content is organized systematically so the judge easily understands who you are and why you are writing.

        The following steps can guide you in writing an effective letter:

        Introduce yourself

        You should begin your letter by mentioning your name and position. In the letters, it is necessary to mention the capacity in which you write the letter. For example, your introduction should include your job title, birth date, country, address, email, and phone number. 

        The introduction should be brief and clear, as shown below:


        My name is Margaret Mendel; I am a citizen of the United States and the Chief Executive Officer at Wendell Textiles Ltd., Michigan.

        Nature of the relationship between the parties

        Once you mention the applicant, you should indicate how you know them. You must establish this relationship to help the court understand that you know the requestor well enough to discuss their character and morals.

        You can describe your relationship as shown in the example below:


        I am writing on behalf of Mark Michaelson, who has worked under my guidance as a manager since 2018. I also supervised Mark when he began as an intern at Wendell Textiles Ltd.

        Describe the applicant’s character traits

        You can mention the applicant’s character traits after establishing the link between the requestor and yourself. The key is to list traits relevant to your letter’s nature. If the applicant is an employee or volunteer, the traits you list should be tailored to skills you can observe as an employer. Additionally, you may also mention the applicant’s job title.


        In the period I have known him, Mark has always been kind and reliable. He has built relationships with his colleagues and is very pleasant to be around. He has demonstrated the above traits in many situations, especially as a volunteer at our local animal shelter.

        Explain work ethics

        If the letter relates to a work or employment immigration opportunity, you may mention the requestor’s work ethic. You can explain the applicant’s honesty, trustworthiness, and reliability with specific examples. You may describe instances where the requestor demonstrated a good work ethic.


        Mark has demonstrated integrity and hard work during his time as an intern and manager. He rose through the ranks during his internship due to his reliability. On one occasion, he found a wallet that belonged to one of his colleagues and returned it with all the money intact. He also offered to fill in for his sick colleague, who fell ill suddenly and could not come to work.

        Expected future contributions of the immigrant

        As you have observed the requestor, you can reasonably predict how they could contribute positively to society. After mentioning the positive traits, you can mention their positive impact on the country and those near them. These contributions may be financial or societal. 


        Mark is efficient and trustworthy and would be a great asset as a citizen. With his exceptional nature, I am confident he will make an excellent contribution to his community.

        Conclude with a heartfelt recommendation

        You should then conclude the letter with a recommendation. Since you have laid the basis for the requestor’s application, your conclusion should be like a call to action. Your language must be as specific as possible when mentioning the action you want the court to take.


        If you are writing the letter in deportation proceedings, you may request that the judge consider not deporting the requester.

        Your recommendation may read as follows:


        In my view, Mark would make a great addition to our employment industry. I would highly recommend that you accept his immigration employment application.

        Template for Immigration Reference Letter

        Reference Letter Template for Immigration Purposes

        [Your Full Name]

        [Your Address]

        [City, State, Zip Code]

        [Email Address]

        [Phone Number]


        [Recipient’s Full Name or Title (if known)]

        [Court’s Name or Immigration Office]

        [Address of the Court or Immigration Office]

        [City, State, Zip Code]

        Subject: Character Reference Letter for [Applicant’s Full Name]

        Dear [Recipient’s Full Name or Title],

        I am writing this letter in support of [Applicant’s Full Name]’s application for [state the nature of the application – e.g., permanent residency, asylum, etc.], which is currently under your consideration. My name is [Your Full Name], and I am a [Your Relationship with the Applicant – e.g., friend, family member, employer] of [Applicant’s Full Name]. I have known [him/her/them] for [Number of Years] years, and I am fully aware of the circumstances that have led [him/her/them] to apply for [nature of the application].

        Character Assessment and Relationship to the Applicant:

        Duration and Capacity of Relationship: I met [Applicant’s Full Name] in [Year] through [how you met – e.g., community events, work, etc.]. Since then, our relationship has grown, allowing me to witness firsthand [his/her/their] character, values, and contributions to our community.

        Moral and Ethical Qualities: [Applicant’s Name] is a person of high moral integrity, known among friends, family, and colleagues for [his/her/their] honesty, reliability, and kindness. [He/She/They] consistently demonstrates respect for others and a deep commitment to [his/her/their] family and community.

        Community Involvement: Throughout the years, [Applicant’s Name] has been actively involved in [specific community services, volunteer work, religious or cultural organizations], showcasing [his/her/their] dedication to giving back to the community and supporting those in need.

        Professional and Personal Achievements: In [his/her/their] professional life, [Applicant’s Name] has shown exceptional qualities such as [list qualities, e.g., leadership, teamwork, dedication]. On a personal level, [he/she/they] has overcome challenges with resilience and strength, always striving for a better future for [himself/herself/themselves] and [his/her/their] family.

        Reasons for Immigration and Support for the Application:

        [Applicant’s Name] seeks to [briefly state the reason for immigration, e.g., pursue better employment opportunities, join family members, escape adverse conditions in home country] in [Country]. I firmly believe that [he/she/they] will not only benefit from this opportunity but will also contribute significantly to [his/her/their] new community through [his/her/their] skills, values, and work ethic.

        In conclusion, I wholeheartedly support [Applicant’s Full Name]’s application for [nature of the application] and kindly request that you consider [his/her/their] case with compassion and understanding. [He/She/They] is a person of good character and integrity, and [his/her/their] intentions to migrate are driven by genuine needs and aspirations for a better life.

        Please feel free to contact me at [Your Phone Number] or [Your Email Address] if you require further information or clarification regarding my recommendation for [Applicant’s Full Name].

        Thank you for considering my letter of support.


        [Your Signature (if sending a hard copy)]

        [Your Printed Name]

        Sample Reference Letter for Immigration

        Subject: Character Reference Letter for Alejandro Rivera

        Honorable Judge Harper,

        I am writing to you today in my capacity as a friend and former colleague of Mr. Alejandro Rivera, in strong support of his application for permanent residency in the United States. My name is Maria Gonzalez, and I have had the privilege of knowing Alejandro for over 10 years, having first met him during our tenure at Springfield Community Center, where we both served as social workers.

        My friendship with Alejandro began in 20XX, shortly after he joined the Community Center. Over the years, I have come to know him as more than just a colleague; he has become a close family friend, celebrated holidays with us, and has been an integral part of our local community.

        Alejandro is a person of exceptional moral character, widely respected for his empathy, diligence, and unwavering commitment to helping others. His integrity is unquestionable, consistently putting the needs of those he serves above his own, and advocating tirelessly for marginalized communities.

        Alejandro’s dedication to service is evident through his volunteer work with local food banks, his organization of community clean-up initiatives, and his role in launching a free after-school program for underprivileged children in Springfield. His efforts have not only improved countless lives but have also fostered a sense of unity and cooperation within our community.

        Professionally, Alejandro has been recognized for his innovative approaches to community service, receiving the Springfield Hero Award in 2019. Personally, he has shown remarkable resilience, navigating the challenges of adapting to a new country while maintaining a positive and hopeful outlook on life.

        Alejandro’s desire to obtain permanent residency stems from his deep-rooted connections to our community and his aspiration to continue his work here, making a meaningful difference in the lives of many. His commitment to our community’s welfare, combined with his professional skills and personal virtues, makes him an invaluable asset to our society.

        I wholeheartedly support Alejandro Rivera’s application for permanent residency and urge you to recognize the positive impact he has already made, and will continue to make, in our community. His dedication, kindness, and moral fortitude exemplify the qualities we cherish and need more of in our society.

        Should you require any further information or wish to discuss Alejandro’s application in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact me at 312-555-7890 or via email at

        Thank you for considering my letter of support for Alejandro Rivera. I am confident in his ability to contribute positively to our community and country, and I sincerely hope for a favorable decision in his case.


        Maria Gonzalez


        This character reference letter is effective due to its structured presentation, the author’s direct relationship with the individual, and the detailed examples that illustrate the individual’s positive traits and contributions to the community. The letter begins by establishing the author’s credibility and relationship with the individual, enhancing the letter’s authenticity. The use of specific instances where the individual demonstrated exceptional moral character, empathy, and dedication to community service serves to convincingly support the author’s claims. Highlighting the individual’s professional recognition and personal resilience provides a comprehensive view of their character and achievements. The letter also emphasizes the individual’s deep connection to the community and their desire to continue making a significant impact, reinforcing the argument for their application’s approval. The author’s offer to provide further information and the closing statement expressing confidence in the individual’s ability to contribute positively showcases a strong endorsement. The combination of personal anecdotes, professional accolades, and a clear display of the individual’s values makes this letter an effective tool in supporting their application.


        While a reference letter is an accompanying document for immigration applications, it is one of the most important ways a requester can demonstrate their character traits. As such, the letter should be straightforward enough for the judge to understand the basis on which you write it. It should be tailored to the reason for the immigration application. In addition, its contents should align with other facts provided in the application.
        To ensure the letter will be effective, you should consult the requestor on facts, qualities, and achievements they might want to highlight. As you include all of the requestor’s traits, remember to exemplify them by mentioning relevant incidences where the requestor demonstrated the mentioned traits. In conclusion, your letter should support the requestor’s application. It should portray their good character and high moral standards.

        About This Article

        Ryan Powell
        Authored by:
        Professional Business Management, Quality Assurance, Human Resources, Supplier Management
        With over 15 years in professional business management and an additional 4 years in e-commerce, Ryan Powell has distinguished himself as a strategic leader, steering sites to generate revenues exceeding $100 million. His approach emphasizes proactive problem-solving and profit optimization. Personal attributes such as strong organization, time management, and team collaboration bolster his professional portfolio. Ryan's experience spans leadership roles from Supervisor to General Manager, with notable contributions in Tier 1 Aerospace sectors, partnering with industry leaders like Boeing and Raytheon. He's adept at quality assurance, aligning with AS/ISO 9001 standards, lean methodology, financial management, including P&L oversight, and human resource strategies that prioritize employee retention. Ryan's comprehensive skill set positions him as an invaluable asset to growth-focused organizations.

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