Help a Friend Immigrate: Write a Strong Reference Letter

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When applying for U.S. citizenshipone primary requirement that an immigrant needs to possess is good moral character and ethics. 

This is basically defined by how they measure up to the standards of the average U.S. citizen according to the community by which the applicant intends to live and work.

Good Moral Character

Because good moral character is primarily determined according to each case, submitting a number of character references can support an applicant’s odds for gaining citizenship

Also, character references can be used for an immigrant who may be dealing with removal proceedings as well.

Here are some tips and guidelines on how to properly write an immigration reference letter:

1. Use Appropriate Introductions

It’s simply not enough to just write a quick, haphazard letter in this case. The reference letter needs to be strong and include key details in order to be effective.

First of all, in needs to have basic information about yourself and explain the relationship between you and the applicant. 

Begin the salutation with, “To Whom It May Concern”. Next, introduce yourself in the beginning of the letter by providing your own immigration status and name.

Explain how you came to know the said applicant. If you hold a respected position in the community, business, or military, be sure you include this important information in the letter.

2. Talk About The Applicant’s Character

In most cases, the heart of any letter is considered the most important. Provide key examples of the applicant’s integrity and good character. 

Clearly point out the different character traits the applicant has, such as a desire to help other people in need. 

Next, include details that support that claim with specific details of certain events whether they’re past or present, like volunteering their time to feed hungry kids.

Also, it’s advisable to convey stories of how eager the applicant is to help out a friend or neighbor who could use a hand or how much they care about their family. 

If the applicant’s petition is denied and may therefore potentially lead to substantial hardship, such as both financial and emotional turmoil, include that information in the letter as well.

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3. Include Other Aspects If Applicable

Depending on the applicant’s personal situation, it may be a good idea to discuss the applicant’s family. 

In the U.S., family ties are especially important and perhaps it’s a strong reason why they’re seeking citizenship.

If the applicant has a particularly strong bond with their spouse and/or children, go ahead and describe it in the letter. 

Again, provide specific examples if possible. In order to further provide credibility, make sure that you describe your longtime or frequent contact with the applicant.

If you’re a former or current employer of the applicant, offer some background on them in terms of your working relationship, such as where and when they worked for you along with their duties and job title at the time. Include examples that illustrate and positively reflect their work ethic, skills, and integrity.

4. End The Letter By Complimenting The Applicant

Finish your immigration reference letter with a sincere compliment and also let the reader know that it’s okay to contact you if they need more information. 

Therefore, be sure to list all your contact information including your phone number, email, and mailing address. 

Even though it’s not absolutely necessary, it’s always best to get the letter notarized as this will verify your identity as well as your signature.

Sample 1 - Immigration Reference Letter For A Friend

Your Name
Your Address
City, State, Zip Code


Department of Immigration
City, State, Zip Code

Re: Character reference letter for immigration of [NAME OF CANDIDATE]

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is [NAME] and I work as an elementary school teacher at [NAME OF SCHOOL in CITY, STATE]. This letter is a character reference for [NAME OF CANDIDATE] to immigrate to the United States. I have known [NAME OF CANDIDATE] for more than three years when I was an exchange teacher in India.

We taught at the same school and worked side by side as teachers, on special projects for the school such as festival days and saw each other socially as I was invited to her home several times.

Her husband works for [NAME OF TECH COMPANY] in the U.S. and has been with the company for six years. She would like to immigrate to the U.S. to be with her husband. They have been married for three months and have no children.

I witnessed [NAME OF CANDIDATE’S] kindness, motivation and dedication to her students when we worked together at [NAME OF SCHOOL] in India. She is a biology teacher for nine to 12-year olds.

She gives her own free time to coach the students who have difficulty in the subject. She is a gentle person in all areas of her life and maintains friendly relations with her siblings who constantly fight with each other.

Over the years, we became good friends. She is able to attain a visitor’s visa but naturally would like to join her new husband permanently. She is a reliable, hardworking person who would be an asset to our country if she were given a chance to become a citizen.

I have no hesitation in recommending that [NAME OF CANDIDATE] be granted immigration status in the U.S. Thank you for taking the time to consider my friend and I would be happy to answer any questions you have. My phone number is [PHONE NUMBER] and my email address is [EMAIL ADDRESS].

Yours Sincerely,

Your Signature (in black or blue ink)
Your Name Printed

Sample 2 - Immigration Reference Letter For A Friend

Joe Smith
123 Oak Street
City, State 12345

Date: July 31, 2022

USCIS (State) Service Center
111 Central Boulevard
City, State 12345

Subject: Letter of Support for [name of the couple]

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Joe Smith, and I was born in [city, state] on [date of birth]. Since [the day you met] when [he, she, or they] moved into our neighborhood, I’ve known [name of one or both of the married pair].

Our families have socialized frequently since then. My wife and I have visited them, and they frequently visit us for dinners, barbecues, and movie evenings.

[The married pair] is, in my perspective, in love and committed to each other. I feel they are happy and have made a lifetime commitment to each other.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this information. My phone number is [(111) 555-5555] if you have any questions or require additional information.


Joe Smith

Sample 3 - Immigration Reference Letter For A Friend

Josh Beck
Marketing Solutions, Inc.
123 North Road
Dixon, AR 76349
(635) 674-8211

May 02, 2022

Department of Immigration
City, State, Zip Code

Re: Character reference letter for immigration of Bon Keomany

To Whom It May Concern:

I am pleased to write this letter on behalf of my longtime friend Bon Keomany, who just recently applied to immigrate to our country.

My name is Josh Beck and it’s been a real privilege to know Bon for the last 4 years. I consider him a respectable businessman and great friend.

I met him just over 4 years ago while working with him in Thailand. Through his generosity and kindness, he willing accommodated me while staying in the country and treated me like family.

After spending a good amount of time with Bon, I came to realize how caring, hardworking, and thoughtful he is overall. Bon’s family, on the other hand, has lived and worked in the U.S. for quite some time.

However, due to other contractual commitments, Bon could not join them here in the U.S. But, now that he has completed all his obligations successfully, Bon is now free to join his family here in the states.

He has been patiently waiting a very long time to unite with his lovely wife and three beautiful children.

I am happy to let you know how honest, dependable, peaceful, and conscientious Bon is with everyone he meets. It is a great honor for me to know him and consider it a privilege to be his friend.

Please contact me if you need further information.


Josh Beck

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is an Immigration Reference Letter for a Friend?

Answer: It’s a document written by a friend or acquaintance that provides information and support for a person’s visa or immigration application.

2. Who writes an Immigration Reference Letter for a Friend?

Answer: It is typically written by someone who knows the applicant personally and can vouch for their character and qualifications.

3. What information should be included in an Immigration Reference Letter for a Friend?

Answer: The writer’s relationship to the applicant, the length of time they have known each other, the applicant’s qualifications and abilities, and the reason for the immigration.

4. Can an Immigration Reference Letter be written by a family member?

Answer: Yes, a family member can write an Immigration Reference Letter for a friend or relative.

5. What format should an Immigration Reference Letter be in?

Answer: A professional, formal format, including the writer’s contact information, the date, and a salutation to the relevant immigration authority.

6. Can an Immigration Reference Letter be written in a language other than English?

Answer: Yes, but it should also include an English translation for the immigration authorities.

7. How long should an Immigration Reference Letter be?

Answer: Typically, one page or less is sufficient.

8. Can an Immigration Reference Letter be submitted electronically?

Answer: It depends on the immigration authorities’ requirements, but most accept both physical and electronic copies.

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