How to Prepare a Reference Letter for Immigration

A reference letter to immigration officials can be as short as one page.

An applicant who wishes to immigrate into a country must provide the documentation required by the immigration department of that country. Often a reference letter is one of the required documents. A reference letter addresses the applicant's character and employment history, and explains why that person would be an asset to the community. A reference letter does not have to be long, but it should include some specific information.

Check with the applicant before you write the reference letter, since there may be certain details she wants included in the letter and others she would prefer not be in it. Ask her to provide you with any specific information she has from immigration officials about how references should be handled.

Begin the letter with the salutation, "To Whom It May Concern," rather than a specific person, since the letter will be read by a number of people in different capacities.

Explain why you are writing the letter and for whom. For example, writing, "This letter is to provide information about Jane Doe's employment with John Smith Corporation" in the first paragraph immediately gives the reader information about the subject of the letter and the company she worked for.

State the dates and timeframe the applicant worked for your company. For example, "She worked at John Smith Corporation from July 2010 to May 2011. She worked 40 hours per week for a total of 1,600 hours during a 10-month period." Include the length of time you have known the applicant. Immigration departments want evidence the applicant has a good work ethic, shows up for work consistently and can cultivate long-term relationships.

State the applicant's main responsibilities in her job. You can list them or include them in a paragraph. Stick to the required responsibilities of the job; you can provide details about extra work she did in a paragraph describing her work performance.

Give details about the applicant's performance. Did she exceed your expectations and complete tasks beyond those in her job description? Did she have positive relationships with other employees? Was she well-liked by clients? Mention specific skills, such as, "Her superb communication skills have been invaluable," or, "Jane thrives on helping others and has strong leadership skills." Use action verbs to give her positive qualities more strength. Include reasons why you think she will be an asset to the country she wishes to immigrate to.

Report the applicant's salary relative to other people in the same position at your company. Did she receive the standard salary, a little more or a little less? If not standard, give the reasons why. Immigration departments want to know the applicant is capable of supporting herself to determine whether she could require government assistance.

Stress your willingness to rehire her, if true. This tells immigration officials she likely will have few difficulties finding a job in her new country.

Include your contact information; some immigration departments verify references. A telephone number and an email address usually are sufficient. If they cannot contact you, they may not process the reference letter, so make sure the information is correct.