The immigration process for any country is often long and challenging. Applicants often need to prove financial stability and 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 that 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 that can give evidence proving the applicant’s good morals in the present circumstances. For example, if it is immigration for employment purposes, it would be best that the writer is 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.
What is a Reference Letter for Immigration?
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 reference 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 the 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.
An immigration reference letter for a friend 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 an affidavit supporting the application in Form I-864.
Following are reference letter templates for a friend:
Immigration reference letter for a family member
The applicant needs to submit particular forms when making their application. Suppose it is an application for 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 writing their redeeming qualities. Also, explain and provide the history of your relationship with the applicant. This allows you to lay a basis for highlighting the applicant’s best qualities.
Following are reference letter templates for family members:
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:
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 reference 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 for immigration reference letters 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 reference letter for immigration:
You should begin your letter by mentioning your name and position. In reference 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 relation 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 from 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. For example, if you are writing the letter in deportation proceedings, you may request the judge to 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.
Sample Reference Letter for Immigration
Honorable Immigration Judge,
My name is Gianni Elvis; I am a 30-year-old American citizen. I write this letter in reference to my friend Alice Khan’s application for permanent residency in the United States.
I have known Ms. Khan for five years, two of which I spent living with her at our student residences. Ms. Khan is of good morals, generous, kind, and earnest. She loves helping people in the community and has volunteered for various charity projects, especially during winter. She is a person with good character and is emotionally and intellectually intelligent, a trait she has demonstrated many times through her compassion and understanding for disadvantaged members of our community.
She has shown commitment to empowering the less fortunate through mentorship programs on financial literacy. I do not doubt that she will be a great addition to our community should her application for permanent residency be approved.
Please contact me if you have any questions.
While a reference letter is an accompanying document for immigration applications, it is one of the most important ways a requestor 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 be highlighted. 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.