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Character Reference Letter for Immigration Template – Examples

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Character Reference Letter for Immigration Template – Examples

Updated August 24, 2023

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A Character Reference Letter for Immigration is a recommendation that is written on behalf of someone in support of their immigration application or another associated proceeding. Immigration judges have considerable discretion. The purpose of this letter is to tilt the balance in the immigrant’s favor by highlighting positive personal characteristics like morality, trustworthiness, and work ethic.

Table of Contents

What to Include

Though written for a formal audience, this letter should be a personal statement that includes details about:

  • The history of the personal or professional relationship with the immigrant
  • Salient positive qualities embodied by the immigrant
  • Expected future contributions that the immigrant will make to the broader community

The point here is to tell a short story about the immigrant’s past and future in the U.S. and provide key details about the relationship between the reference-writer and the immigrant. Share anecdotes so that the letter reads less like a list of claims than a compelling personal narrative.

How to Use a Character Reference Letter for Immigration (5 steps)

  1. Find a Reputable Person
  2. Give Details
  3. Draft Letter
  4. Sign and Notarize
  5. Attach Letter

1. Find a Reputable Person

applicant meeting with writer of character reference letter

Like any reference, the power of its claims lies in the credibility of the writer. So, try to find someone with clout, like a long-time friend or employer. Though family members will usually be willing to provide glowing references, it is preferable to enlist someone who is not related. Depending on your situation, the USCIS wants to see that a person will have a positive impact on becoming a citizen of the United States. Therefore obtaining a reference from an already established member and citizen within the United States can play a big role in the success of your application.

There are mainly 2 ways that an individual may apply for immigration to the United States. An Immigration Reference Letter should be written for either of the following:

  • Immigration Based on Family
  • Employment-Based Immigration

2. Give Details

applicant on laptop showing US citizenship and immigration services website

While your reference might know quite a bit about your personal history, it does not hurt to suggest key details for inclusion. You can draft a bullet list of important points for them to include. The first step when filing for immigration while located in the US is to submit a petition. If an applicant lives outside the USA, he or she may apply at a USCIS office located in their country or mail in the application if no offices are present.

3. Draft Letter

applicant drafting character reference letter on laptop

Offer to write the letter yourself if you believe that this will move things along, or if you are otherwise concerned about your reference’s ability to write a compelling statement. Although not required, it’s a good idea to make the letter read fluently in English. If an individual is having a hard time translating their reference letter into English, they can hire a copywriter online to help you with your problem.

4. Sign and Notarize

person signing character reference letter

Since this letter is a formal statement, it should be signed, dated, and notarized. Keep a copy for personal records. If the applicant is located within the United States, getting a document notarized is an easy yet tedious task. Most banks and financial institutions offer this service and may charge a small fee.

5. Attach Letter

applicant attaching character reference letter to immigrations application

Send the letter with other application documents to make sure that it does not get lost in administrative processing. All applicants should notify their agent of any reference letters. Your agent is the person listed on form Form DS-261.

Who to Select for a Reference?

Character references of this variety should be written by someone who is close to the individual, someone who can provide direct examples and specific anecdotes to help support the argument for the requester’s moral character. A prime candidate would be a neighbor, a family member, a friend, an employer, or a member of their church. In this case, the more of an emotional impact the individual in question has had on the life of the writer, and vice versa, the better. For those being detained and facing removal from the country, a reference from their children (if applicable) often provides the strongest case.


How to Write (Format)

The purpose of the letter is to prove that the individual seeking to stay in the country possesses good morals and ethics, and that they are, or would be, a valued member of the community. Due to the informal and emotional nature of these letters, it’s best to be sincere, honest, and heartfelt, especially in the case of a deportation. The writer should include the emotional and financial turmoil that denial of citizenship or removal would cause them and/or the requester’s family.

The format of a letter of this variety is standard; an introduction, as many body paragraphs as is necessary to prove the point, and a conclusion.


It is important that the introduction state the writer’s name, age, profession, relationship to the requester, citizen status, and the length of the relationship with the requester. The introduction can begin to plead the case for the individual in question but the main body paragraph(s) should be the primary source of the argument.

If the letter is used to prevent a Cancellation of Removal, it should be addressed “Dear Immigration Judge” or “Honorable Immigration Judge”. Otherwise “To whom it may concern” should be employed.

Introduction – Example 1

Honorable Immigration Judge,

My name is Sofia Alvarez, I am an 29 year old American citizen and have been married to Jerry Alvarez for the past 6 years. Jerry is a kind, loving husband and a wonderful father to our two children. His detainment has been emotionally and financially devastating to our family; a child needs a father figure, and he serves as our only source of financial income.

Introduction – Example 2

To whom it may concern,

My name is Alexander Sokolov, I am 45 years old, and I am delighted to be able to write this letter on behalf of my cousin, Allister Sokolov, who recently applied to immigrate to America. I have known Alexander my entire life. I worked with him in restoration both here and in Russia, therefore I can attest first hand to his work ethic, his integrity, and his overall kindness.

Both examples above mention all the required pieces of information so that the individual for whom the letter is being written can ascertain the exact relationship held between writer and detainee, as well as the strength of the reference being given.

Body Paragraph(s)

The body paragraphs are where the writer will illustrate what it is the requester is attempting to prove to the immigration officials. Included should be the work ethic of the individual (especially if written by an employer), the impact they have on those depending on them emotionally or financially, and ultimately, their positive character traits. Specific examples should be provided if possible.

Body Paragraph – Example 1

Maria is a loving mother who provides everyday for her children. A single mother of two jobs, I am always amazed at her ability to raise her three daughters with such grace and care. As her sister, I see her nurturing my nieces into strong, intelligent, independent women; I hate to see what would occur if this family were to be separated. She worked overtime for 5 months just to pay for last year’s Christmas, ensuring that her children have the same pleasures in life as those they go to school with. While my husband and I help out when we can, there’s no replacing a child’s mother.

Body Paragraph – Example 2

I have had the joy of having Aadarsh as an employee the past 4 years and I can’t stress enough how hard working and loyal this young man is. He has always shown dedication to improving as a carpenter and now has the skills necessary to become an independent contractor should he wish to do so. Aadarsh has also stayed faithful to my company by turning down quite a few offers proposed by other employers impressed by his work ethic and efficiency. The young man has been attending community college on a part time basis where he’s decided to take a course in American History to better educate himself on the country he wishes to call home. We’ve had many insightful conversations during our lunch break as he relays what he’s learned to me in his classes. I’m ashamed to admit that it’s usually him educating me and not the other way around.

Our first example above is written by the requester’s sister and it provides a strong case for why the individual facing removal should be permitted to stay in the country. The writer has provided specific examples and has highlighted her sister’s positive character traits to demonstrate her overall character and the impact she has on her children’s lives.

The second example is from the perspective of an employer who’s focused on Aadarsh’s work ethic and enthusiasm for the country to which he is trying to immigrate. Both of these points will make a strong argument to the immigration officials reviewing the application.


The letter should conclude heartfelt, complimenting the individual seeking naturalization/avoiding deportation. The opinion that the person should be permitted to remain in the country and be granted citizenship should be restated in the final paragraph as well. If applicable, the contact information of the writer will be present at the bottom of the page. Also, if possible, a notarized letter will remove any doubt of the writer’s signature.

Conclusion – Example 1

My father is a gentle, loving man, a role model to my young brothers, and a provider for our family. I can’t possibly express how horrible it would be if he were deported back to Venezuela, and I ask that you please let him stay in the United States, the country we now call home.


Nicolas Chávez

Conclusion – Example 2

Our family fully supports, in every possible way, David’s immigration application. He is a man with great integrity, a passionate loyalty for the United States of America, a strong character, and a warm and friendly disposition. I can’t think of a better addition to this great nation. Feel free to contact me at any time at (835) 467-2346 or johnsmith@gmail.com.


John Smith

(Notarized Signature)

Character Reference Letter – Sample 1

To whom it may concern:It is with great pleasure that I am able to provide this letter on behalf of my good friend and neighbor Mustafah who has just applied to immigrate to the United States from Jordan.

My name is Jonathon Mitchell, I’m a general practitioner and I’m an American citizen. I first met Mustafah when he moved in next door seven years ago. I was thrilled to have another doctor in the neighborhood. We quickly became friends and it soon became evident to me that the man is as intelligent as he is compassionate. He’s the only man that I trust to provide medical treatment for myself and my family.

Mustafah was seemingly born a caring man, he clearly took an interest in medicine purely to assist those in need and not for the financial compensation. Before his first child was born, he volunteered to help train hospital staff in Ghana for the better part of a year. Since his return, he volunteers at a homeless clinic 15 hours a week. His generosity and kindness have been an inspiration to myself and all those who work with the man.

Both Mustafah and his wife are wonderful role models for our children, ages 5 and 7. As our families became close, they would look after our children when both my wife and I had to work. Perhaps to my own disappointment, my daughter was inspired to become a doctor as well, not because of my influence on her but because of Uncle Mustafah’s. He has always been a great influence on my two girls and I feel truly blessed to have a neighbor to help raise them into the strong women they have already started to become.

Mustafah deserves citizenship as he’s already such a valued member in the community in which he resides. I recommend that he be naturalized as soon as possible, we need more men like him. Feel free to contact me at any time at (111) 111-1111 or example@gmail.com should you have any questions.


Jonathan Mitchell, M.D.

Character Reference Letter – Sample 2

May 1, 2017To Whom It May Concern:

I am submitting this letter in support of Eugenio Cruz’s application for permanent residency in the United States.

My name is Jess O’Connor, and I am a social worker with Valleyway Human Services and a U.S. citizen. I have known Mr. Cruz for nearly two years, since he moved in next-door to me in July 2015.

In this time, I have found Mr. Cruz to be a kind, earnest, trustworthy, and hardworking man. He is the consummate neighbor and has quickly established himself as a pillar in our local community.

On several occasions last winter, completely unprompted, Mr. Cruz shoveled my entire driveway. He regularly assists elderly neighbors with household tasks, and twice volunteered as an organizer of the annual Labor Day block party.

If his application for permanent residency is approved, I have no doubt that he will continue to give back to his local community, and to the wider national one.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


Jess O’Connor

Character Reference Letter – Sample 3

Your Honorable Immigration Judge:I am Adrian Lisowski, I am 58 years old, a legal Polish immigrant, a successful restaurateur and I have known Marta Lisowski, my wife, for over 30 years. I request that you allow Marta to remain in the country as her removal will have a severe emotional and financial impact on our family.

Marta and I have four children together, two of which have children of their own. She serves as the matriarch of the family, providing support and counsel when the children are struggling, taking care of her grandchildren whenever necessary, preparing family dinners during holidays, and ensuring that we preserve the integrity of the family name. She is a powerful woman and the backbone of this household. It’s indisputable that her permanent removal will have serious negative repercussions on her grandchildren, her children and on myself, her husband of almost three decades.

My restaurant is also dependent on my wife’s work ethic, she’s the manager of the front and back of the house, the accountant, and by far the hardest worker. The money we make from our business is our sole source of income and the restaurant has single-handedly allowed us to raise our family and set our roots in our community. I can’t imagine how we could stay open without her in the picture.

This is my wife’s first offense and if she were to be deported because of it, the consequences of the punishment would far outweigh the crime. She’s an honest, kind-hearted woman with a strong character, and her one charge is not an accurate reflection of what a wonderful person she is. I implore you to allow her to stay in the country, there are too many of us who depend on her.


Adrian Lisowski