Immigration Reference Letter for a Friend

When an individual from another country chooses to reside in America or in some other country, they will require a letter of support from an American citizen or citizen of that country. This letter is known as an Immigration Reference Letter.

What Is an Immigration Reference Letter for a Friend?

An immigration reference letter for a friend helps to show that the person in question is someone of good character and conduct. These letters can help increase the immigrant’s chance of being granted citizenship.

The Immigration Reference Letter’s purpose is to center on the immigrant’s character, their moral standing, and why they would be an asset to America. Once written, the letter is sent to the immigration office.

Essential Elements

Before we begin, know that the applicant isn’t limited to one letter. The applicant can have as many friends as possible to compose this letter. However, remember that it’s better to have 5 quality letters than 10 sloppily written letters. In other words, the immigrant should ask people of good standing with excellent communication skills to compose this type of letter. The more credible the reference, the better the letter. Suggestions include:

  • Church official
  • Employer
  • Community leaders
  • Representatives of volunteer organizations

Since the object of this letter is to support the immigrant, certain elements need to be included in the letter. These include:

  • Contact information
  • Full names of the author of the letter and immigrant
  • Applicant’s good character traits along with real-life examples to back up your claims
  • A brief history of the immigrant and reference writer’s relationship
  • How the applicant will be an asset to the country

How to Write an Immigration Reference Letter for a Friend

Now that you have a good idea of what this letter is all about, it’s time to sit down and write one yourself. But, again, remember that the letter must be organized and detail orientated.

Use the Proper Format

This letter is considered a professional document and must be treated as such. This means that proper business letter format is to be used. Here, you are to use a business block format with an Arial font, size 14. Business block format means that all sections begin at the left-hand margin with no indentations. In addition, all sections are to be single-spaced, with double spacing between each section. Sections include:

  • Introduction: Where you introduce yourself
  • Body of the letter: Where you discuss your connection to the applicant, their qualities as well as anecdotes
  • Conclusion: Thank the reader for their time, reinforce the good qualities of the applicant, and include contact information.

Tone and Writing Style

When writing this letter, care must be taken to consider the immigration judge. Immigration judges read hundreds of these letters. As such, you must write a letter that is easy to read. This means that it should be short and concise. This also refers to sentence structure. There’s no need to use ten-dollar words here. You want to keep the narrative flowing. That’s right; we said “narrative”. This means writing the letter as a narrative rather than a group of facts piled upon one another. Keep the tone professional but friendly and interesting. If you don’t consider yourself a writer, know that you can hire professional writers to compose your letter.


A salutation is also known as a greeting. If you know the individual’s full name, you can place it here (Dear Janice S. Bartholomew). However, if you do not know the name, use a general salutation such as To Whom It May Concern.

First Section

The first paragraph of the immigration reference letter includes your introduction. First, introduce yourself to the reader. Remember, this person has no idea who you are, so keep it detail orientated and brief. The introduction should mention your name and how long you’ve known the immigrant.

Second Section

The second section is also considered the body of the letter and begins the section where you discuss the applicant’s character. Again, be as detailed as you can here, as this is the heart and soul of the letter. For instance, consider the applicant’s positive character traits, such as loyalty, honesty, cooperativeness, etc. Next, support each claim with a real-life example of each positive character trait, such as:

The applicant, John Smith, has proven to be a person who cares deeply for his friends. For example, several weeks ago, John learned about the family’s difficulties due to a family illness. John volunteered to help the family by mowing the lawn, shopping for food, and helping cart their laundry to the laundromat.

Remember, you can also include the immigrant’s family. In other words, discuss how strong their connection to their family is, especially if it’s their main reason for wanting to become an American citizen. Include specific examples here as well, as each real-life example helps to support the immigrant. Finally, close off this section by stating why the applicant will be an asset to the country.


Conclude the letter by thanking the reader for their time. Also, it’s crucial to encourage the reader to contact you in case they have any questions or concerns regarding the applicant. Therefore, include your contact information in this section as well.

Proofread and Edit Your Immigration Reference Letter

Whether considered a top-notch writer or someone who cannot write well, you must proofread and edit your immigration reference letter. Nothing will get a letter discarded faster than spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors. If you are not confident enough to proof and edit yourself, you can hand it over to someone else or use one of the many online spell/grammar checkers available.

The Finishing Touches

Once you’re satisfied with the letter, it’s time to get it ready to send. First, print the letter out on high-quality paper, so ditch the cheap copy paper and opt for a high-quality paper such as Hammermill at 22 to 24 pounds. Once you’ve completed the printing, remember to keep several hard copies for yourself and copies stored as files on our hard drive. Finally, take it to have it notarized.

Sample Immigration Reference Letter for a Friend

We’ve included a basic template in order to help you get started. Remember, this is a basic template. In other words, your letter may have much more information in it. Still, keep it brief and concise as immigration judges have to wade through hundreds of these letters, so making it as easy to read as possible could be a big plus on your end.

Sender’s Name

Sender’s Address

City, State, Zip Code

Phone Number

Email Address


Recipient’s Name

Recipient’s Address

City, State, Zip Code

To Whom It May Concern:

Greetings, I hope this letter finds you well. My name is [Full Name]. I work at Chapel Gardens Community Church as a pastor. This letter is in regard to my friend [Immigrants Name] desire to immigrate to our beautiful country. I’ve known the applicant, [Immigrants Name], for a total of [Number of Years] and feel that they are a person of good character who can be a positive asset to our country.

Our relationship began when [Immigrants Name] began attending the community church in Atlanta. We immediately hit it off as [Immigrants Name] is a very friendly and open person of good humor.

It was through our association with the community church that I became aware of their steadfastness, generosity, compassion, and ability to engage in hard work. [Immigrants Name] consistently volunteered their time when it came to doing everything from running errands to lawn mowing and shrubbery care. In fact, with their help, we were able to create our very first vegetable garden, which helped to feed the poorer members of the congregation!

In short, [Immigrants Name] has proven himself to be a valuable asset to our community. He is eager to help a neighbor in need and has proved himself to be trustworthy, kind, and worthy of friendship. His devotion to their own family goes above and beyond what is expected of him.

Thank you for your kind attention to the above matter. [Immigrants Name] is an amazing person who is devoted not only to the family but to the community as well. I consider it a privilege to represent him in this matter. If you have any comments or questions regarding this letter, please contact me at 555-555-6767 or [email protected]


Thomas Masterson

Final Thoughts

The immigration reference letter to a friend is critical to the immigration application process. This letter tells the immigration judge everything they need to know regarding the immigrant’s positive qualities and how they will benefit America. The letter is considered a professional document and must be handled as such. It should be composed in block business style while using a simple font such as Arial and printed on 22 to 24-pound, high-quality printer paper. The letter will then need to be checked for errors, copied, and then notarized. As for tone, it should be easy to read, professional, friendly, and tell a story. We hope you’ve found this short guide to writing an immigration reference letter to a friend helpful.