immigration reference letter for a family member

Have you been asked to write an immigration reference letter for a family member or wondering if you need one to help your relative’s case? This question comes up sometimes, and it can be challenging to know how to best craft this letter so an immigration judge will rule favorably on your family member’s case. Basically, an immigration reference letter or character reference letter for immigration is a recommendation letter supporting someone’s immigration application or case. Since judges have discretion in deciding the outcome of someone’s case, it can be beneficial in getting approval by demonstrating that your relative has positive qualities that would benefit society, including being honest and ethical, among others.

Table of Contents

  1. Immigration Reference Letter for Family Immigration Cases
  2. What to Include in an Immigration Reference Letter for Bond Release
  3. What is Considered a Hardship?
  4. How to Prove Financial Hardship
  5. Other Types of Reference Letters: Showing Support
  6. Documents to Prove Familial Relationship
  7. Consult an Immigration Professional


Immigration Reference Letter for a Family Member’s Immigration Cases

The content of an immigration reference letter for a family member will depend on what the purpose is. For example, if you’ve been asked to write one to obtain a release on bond or green card deportation, then it should be written to highlight that intention. To give you some background, when a person is detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), they may request a bond hearing in order to be released from detention (note: not everyone may be eligible for this, for instance, if they have criminal convictions). In all immigration reference letters for a family member, it is important to give a brief history of your relationship to the person, emphasize positive qualities, and what future contributions could be expected by them. If the letter is for an employment-based immigration case, it’s better to have an employer or friend who is credible write the letter instead. Furthermore, it carries greater weight if the person is already a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

What to Include in an Immigration Reference Letter for Bond Release

Before an immigration judge agrees to release someone on bond, they will first examine the person’s connections to the community, if there is any potential danger in releasing them, and other factors. So to consider these factors, they need to sift through evidence in the person’s case, and one of these is an immigration reference letter from a relative or someone close to the person. In your immigration reference letter for a family member, you have the opportunity to explain why it’s a good decision to release them from detention and why they should be trusted to return to immigration court for their hearing.

Here are some tips if you are writing a letter for bond purposes:

  • Use the letter to introduce yourself, your address, and your immigration status. If you are writing this letter from a professional context, you can use your business letterhead.
  • Address the letter with “Honorable Immigration Judge.”
  • Indicate your relationship with the person and the period of time you’ve known them
  • Explain what type of person they are, including positive traits that have contributed to the community, your family, or in a professional capacity.
  • Indicate whether you think they are a danger to society.
  • Explain what sort of hardship would be caused by keeping the person detained. This hardship can be either to the community or to family members who depend on them.
  • Describe traits that would indicate they would return to their future court hearings. For example, are they honest, responsible, or ethical?
  • Always sign, date, and notarize the letter.
  • Indicate that what you’ve written is accurate and to the best of your knowledge.
  • If the letter is not in English and you use a translator, request a Certificate of Translation from the court. Certain states will have a form available to download on their website, and the translator will fill out a form to swear that what they translated was accurate.

What is Considered a Hardship?

Certain factors demonstrate hardship for qualifying relatives. These could include:

  • Financial consequences
  • Ties (familial or community) in the United States
  • Health or age pertaining issues
  • Unsafe conditions in the home country or inferior medical services
  • Communication hardship/language barrier in the home country
  • Employment consequences

Common hardships, which are caused by deportation, include family separation, economic or financial challenges, difficulties pursuing employment outside of the U.S., access to medical services/facilities, and challenges adjusting to life outside the U.S.

How to Prove Financial Hardship

There are a few ways to prove financial hardship in cases where an immigrant is facing deportation. It can be proven with documents like mortgage or rent invoices, tax returns, child care receipts, medical bills, and health expenses.

Other Types of Reference Letters: Showing Support

There are instances not related to bond hearings that may necessitate an immigration reference letter for a family member or relative. For example, a letter of support for waivers. For these types of letters, you also want to describe the types of hardship resulting from the qualifying relatives (U.S. citizens or permanent residents) if the judge or officer does not grant relief. The type of qualifying relatives differs depending on what sort of relief your relative is seeking.

  • Cancellation of Removal of Non-Permanent Residents (Deportation Proceedings): For this case, the qualifying relatives would be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent, spouse, or child. The child is considered someone unmarried and under 21 for immigration purposes.
  • Family Unity Waiver: The qualifying relatives for this case would be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is the spouse or parent (children not considered qualifying relatives in this case).

Documents to Prove Familial Relationship

  • Birth Certificates
  • Copies of Passports
  • Marriage Certificate

When a judge is considering the hardship, they are looking specifically at these qualifying relatives. However, they may consider the hardship to non-qualifying relatives, including adult children, siblings, and grandparents, among others. It’s important though to make the focus on the hardship directly to the qualifying relatives.

Below is a sample immigration letter of support for a family member introduction:

“Honorable Immigration Judge,

My name is Juan Valdez. I am 35 years old and am grateful to have the opportunity to write this letter on behalf of my cousin, Davide Valdez, who applied for immigration to the United Sates. Juan and I have known each other our entire lives, and I can attest to his honesty, kindness, and exceptional work ethic, on top of being a dedicated father to two children and a husband.”

Again, the introduction should include who you are in reference to the immigrant (relationship) as well as some describing character traits.

The following paragraphs should provide a strong argument about why the immigrant should be granted approval on their immigration case or avoiding deportation, including the exceptional hardship (financial, emotional, etc.) to qualifying relatives and specific examples if possible.

Consult an Immigration Professional

In order to ensure the highest approval rate, it’s imperative to have a qualified immigration professional review all of your documents prior to submission. If you have additional questions about writing or receiving an immigration reference letter for a family member, then we can help with that as well. To get in touch with our office, you can fill out this contact form and schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.