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? It can be challenging to know how to best craft this letter. 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 a case’s outcome, it can be beneficial to demonstrate that your relative has positive qualities that would benefit society.
How to Write A Letter For Immigration: Family Member’s Deportation Case
The content of an immigration reference letter for a family member will depend on what the purpose is. For example, if a family member asked you’ve to write one to obtain a release on bond or green card deportation, you should highlight that intention. To give you some background, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detain someone, the detainee may request a bond hearing. 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 essential 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 of recommendation instead. Furthermore, it carries greater weight if the person is already a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Outline of an Immigration Letter of Recommendation
Section 1: Greeting and Date
Example: Honorable Immigration Judge
Section 2: Introduction
In the letter’s introduction, include the following:
- Your name (the person writing the letter)
- Relationship to the immigration recipient
- Your legal status
- Other brief background information on yourself you want to include (e.g.., duration of the relationship with the candidate).
Section 3: Main Body Paragraphs
This is the meat of the letter of recommendation and should be full of information the judge can use to determine the person’s moral character. Use specific examples when possible and comment on the immigrants:
- Positive attributes
- Emotional and financial stability
- Hardships they may encounter if not allowed to remain in the U.S. and/or granted citizenship
Final Conclusion Paragraph
This is your last chance to connect with the judge reading the letter, so try to communicate with them on a human level through your words. Again, reiterate why the person you’re writing the letter for is an outstanding person whose presence in the U.S. will contribute to the community and society because of their good moral character.
Include your contact information and signature to conclude the letter.
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 following:
- the person’s connections to the community
- any potential danger in releasing them
- Any other factors
They need to sift through evidence in the person’s case. One of these is an immigration reference letter from a relative or someone close to the person. So in your immigration reference letter for a family member, explain why it’s a good decision to release them from detention. In addition, explain why the judge should trust them to return to immigration court for their hearing.
Tips for Writing a Support Letter for Bond
- 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 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
Everyday hardships 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 when an immigrant faces deportation. You can prove it 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 unrelated to bond hearings that may necessitate an immigration reference letter for a family member or relative. A waiver support letter is one example. 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 considers 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. Therefore, it’s essential to focus on the hardship directly to the qualifying relatives.
Below is a sample immigration letter of recommendation 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) and some describing character traits.
The following paragraphs should provide a strong argument about why the government should grant approval to the immigrant on their immigration case or avoid deportation, including the exceptional hardship (financial, emotional, etc.) to qualifying relatives and specific examples if possible.
Immigration Reference Letter Frequently Asked Questions
How can I find someone to write my immigration letter of recommendation?
The immigration judge will judge not only the words on the page about you but also the writer’s credibility. It is beneficial to have someone reputable write it for you. Good candidates include:
- A current or past employer is a good option
- Friends that have been in your life long-term
- Fellow church member
- Relatives (if you cannot find anyone outside of your immediate circle willing to write it)
Can a sibling write a character reference letter?
Yes, they can, but if possible, it is advised to have someone not in your immediate family write it since relatives are often biased. The person who writes the letter on your behalf should be able to provide specific examples supporting your character and exemplifying the immigration case you’re trying to make.
What is the point of an immigration support letter?
An immigration support letter is one form of supporting documentation that an immigration judge will look at carefully when deciding on the outcome of your immigration case. In some scenarios, it can significantly tip the scale for the outcome of your case if the letter is compelling.
What is a good moral character letter for immigration?
Good moral character points to reliability, honesty, trustworthiness, respect for the law, etc.