Writing a Letter of Recommendation for Immigration

Writing a Letter of Recommendation for Immigration

There may come a time when a family member or employee approaches you to ask for a letter of recommendation for immigration purposes. If you’ve been asked to write an immigration reference letter, you may have some questions—like where to even start when considering an immigration support letter, how to write a support letter for immigration, and/or what a character reference for immigration even is.

We are here to answer any questions you may have about your role in writing a letter of recommendation for immigration. We will also provide immigration letter sample descriptions.

Why Does a Letter of Recommendation for Immigration Matter?

The immigration process is complicated, lengthy, and can be extremely stressful. Evidence and timelines must be precise. The person who wants to immigrate to the United States needs to prove that they are eligible to be in the U.S. Although reputation is not everything, having a strong character reference can have a big impact on an applicant’s immigration journey.

If you are asked to write a letter of recommendation for immigration, you are being asked to show the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that that applicant is qualified and worthy to be a contributing member of society in the United States.

What Is My Role as an Immigrant Support Writer?

The weight of your letter is not the only nor final determinant of a judge’s decision to approve an applicant’s request. The purpose of your letter also matters, as does the evidence and the case the applicant/petitioner and their lawyer present.

Your letter’s main purpose is to show the character of the applicant. If the applicant’s character as described in your letter does not align with their other evidence, then issues may arise.

We will cover how to write an immigration support letter on this page, but it can be helpful to work with a knowledgeable immigration attorney. A recommendation letter is a document used for the legal process of immigration; consulting an immigration lawyer who can give sound advice on writing an immigration letter of support can greatly benefit both you and the person the letter is being written for.

If you are not used to writing support letters or do not know how to, working with an immigration lawyer can alleviate some stress you may have.

Letter of Recommendation for Citizenship Types

The type of letter you must write will determine how you want to write your letter and present the person you are writing for. Your immigration support letter has a purpose, and that purpose is to prove to the judge that the applicant/immigrant is eligible to be in the U.S.

You may be approached to write an immigration reference letter for a friend, loved one, employee, and/or family member. Some of the circumstances in which you may be asked to write an immigration support letter include:

  • For a family member’s immigration case/support waivers
  • To show the person’s character in bond hearings
  • To provide a character reference for removal proceedings
  • To help with an employment-based visa application
  • To support an application for advanced permission to enter the United States
  • To show the character of the applicant/petitioner in other types of immigrant or non-immigrant visa cases

Writing a Letter of Recommendation for Citizenship: A Closer Look

A letter of recommendation for immigration can be used for many purposes. Let’s take a closer look at some of the more common circumstances in which a recommendation letter may be used.

Immigration Letter of Recommendation for Family

Someone applying for adjustment of status will need to turn in forms like Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status; Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative; and Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. An immigration letter of recommendation can be an additional and beneficial document. The letter of recommendation will hold more weight if the writer is already a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR).

When writing an immigration letter of recommendation for family, you should include the following in the letter:

  • Your relationship to the applicant
  • A history of your relationship with the person
  • Who you understand that person to be—including positive characteristics and evidence to support those characteristics

Character Letter for Immigration for a Family Member’s Immigration Case

You may be asked to write an immigration reference letter for a friend or relative for removal proceedings—also known as deportation. If your loved one is detained—typically by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—the next step may be a hearing where the immigrant can be released back into the United States or deported from the country.

If the immigrant has been accused—or found guilty—of criminal offenses, then a character letter for immigration may be either disputable or redundant because they will most likely be deported.

When writing a letter for bond release, it’s important to know the details of the case. By knowing the worries of the judge, you can provide specific reasons why the judge should not be worried, as opposed to generalizing the person in question’s overall character.

You can also talk about the reasons why it would be beneficial for society to release the immigrant. You trust them, and so should the judge and community.

Discuss the potential impact of retaining or deporting the person, such as the exacerbation of medical conditions, financial instability for their family, and/or hardship caused by family separation. Your immigration lawyer can help you come up with relevant and truthful examples of hardship and consequences.

Letter of Recommendation for Immigration Employment

When applying for employment-based visas, it’s helpful to have letters of recommendation that support the applicant’s evidence about their work experience.

Something to consider when submitting a letter of recommendation for employment is that expert testimonies are not given as much weight as they have been in the past. A declaration from an expert is not enough; the letter must highlight the employment/career achievements that match evidence also submitted to USCIS.

The point of a reference letter is to further highlight:

  • Work experience
  • Skill level
  • Industry competence
  • How the applicant has made a beneficial contribution to the field/company/industry

USCIS will consider a recommendation letter from a reputable source that knows the applicant/petitioner well.

Advanced Permission

Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant, can be applied to temporary work, studies, tourism, business, or applicants who have been deemed inadmissible. When a person is inadmissible, they can file Form I-192 to ask the government for forgiveness.

An immigration support letter from family, friends, and/or community members can help with advanced permission, particularly if the applicant is eligible and was once considered inadmissible.

Characteristics of a Reference Writer

Your qualifications to write a letter of recommendation for immigration depend on your relation to the applicant and the purpose of the recommendation letter. For example, it would not be beneficial to use a family member as a reference for an employment visa application.

The person writing the immigration reference letter should be of good standing with the United States government. If they are already a U.S. citizen or LPR, that also helps. Writer qualities may include the following, if applicable:

  • Qualifying family member(s)
  • Experts in the field of study or employment
  • Employers and/or managers

If the applicant is entering the United States for an advanced degree (EB-2) and has published scholarly articles, they should try to find letter writers who are experts in their field of study but not article co-contributors.

How to Write a Support Letter for Immigration

When preparing to write a support letter, always consider the letter’s purpose. As such, the letter’s format may not change, but the specific content will. An immigration letter of support should use specifics.

Avoid templates that offer generalizations. If you need help making changes to a template, speak with an experienced immigration attorney for advice on your specific letter.

Employment Letters

An employment letter of recommendation for immigration needs to show USCIS how qualified the applicant is for obtaining a visa and how their entry into the U.S. could be of benefit to the country. As the letter writer, you should also include your qualifications, showing your credibility for supporting the applicant/petitioner.

Your immigration support letter should include:

  • A signature, printed name, and job title of the supervisor or employer
  • The business’s contact information
  • A business card
  • The applicant’s job title
  • The applicant’s salary, employment dates, and a detailed description of duties

Write the immigration letter of support on company letterhead to demonstrate the company’s credibility.

Family Letters

Again, there are many reasons why you may write an immigration support letter for a family member. Be sure to include:

  • Your relation to the applicant
  • Descriptive characteristics of the applicant
  • Hardships and evidence of such, if applicable, to why the applicant should be allowed to enter or remain in the U.S.

What to Include in the Letter of Recommendation for Immigration

  1. If applicable to a court hearing, address the letter with “Dear Honorable Immigration Judge” (if you know the name of the judge, include that as well). Also address any officers with “Dear Officer” (once again including any names you may have).
  2. Introduce yourself and provide your own citizenship/immigration status.
  3. Establish your relationship with the applicant.
  4. Describe the applicant’s personality traits with supporting examples.
  5. Write in a narrative format to support the purpose of the letter.
  6. Sign and date the letter.

If you need a translator for the letter, you can request a Certificate of Translation.

Sample Immigration Letter of Support for a Family Member

All letters will be subjective, written specifically for the person you are supporting. A letter of recommendation for U.S. citizenship will be written differently than one petitioning for a bond release. However, working from an immigration letter sample can be a good place to start.

Below is a sample for the possible beginning of a letter of support. Remember, this should not be copied. Consult your immigration attorney for specific advice:

Dear [name of recipient]/Dear Honorable Immigration Judge:

My name is Emma Hernandez, and I am writing on behalf of my cousin, George Hernandez, to recommend his approval for United States citizenship.  

I am a United States citizen and nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. I have known George for my entire life and can attest to his respectfulness, kindness, and incredible work ethic. He is an honest man of great integrity and I am confident he will make exceptional contributions to his community in the United States.

We hope that this introduction provides a helpful basis for how to begin your own letter of recommendation for immigration.

Contact an Immigration Attorney Today

The immigration lawyers at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. have over 30 years of experience in immigration law. We can help you with your green card recommendation letter—or any other type of immigration support letter that is needed.

Call us at 312.444.1940 or fill out our online contact form today!

We're looking forward to hearing from you!