Help me write a green card letter.
August 13, 2023 5:24 PM   Subscribe

A friend and co-worker has requested I write a letter in support of getting her husband, another co-worker, his green card.

These two people are awesome, and they have a tiny baby, just a few months old. I want to write them a really good letter. I imagine letters of this sort should be just one page, mention specifics...What else? Have you written one of these or can you point me to some templates? Help me narrow down all the wonderful things I want to say about this guy.
posted by vrakatar to Law & Government (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
(Don’t have any answers to your actual question, but thanks for looking into the details of what will make for an effective letter! Well, one semi-suggestion: maybe google immigration lawyers and see if anyone has a blog on their website that talks about the details of the green card process, including about letters of support?)
posted by eviemath at 5:54 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

I have written three of these for friends and all three received their permanent residencies! I am unreasonably cheered by this, as well as deeply frustrated by the U.S. immigration system butting into people's lives in this fashion. If I can dig up the files, I'll memail you. Yes on the 1-2 pages length. But based on my recollection, what I wrote was:

1) How I know the couple, when and where we met and our sustained friendship and connection. Basically I figured the powers that be want someone to attest to the fact the couple are truly in a relationship. You can also include a bit of context about you here, basically whatever gets you some credibility (fancy job title etc).

2) How wonderful the person is - emphasizing their skills and attitude. Example, a friend's partner was pursuing a nursing degree, so lots of glowing praise for how wonderful, educated, talented, caring, and a stellar contributing member of American society they will be.

3) If there's anything that would raise red flags for authorities, briefly address those concerns. Example, a friend and their spouse lived in separate cities for part of their marriage before applying for the green card. I just quickly explained why that happened and how they visited each other. Or another friend was undocumented, but had just barely missed the cut off for DACA (aka was an teenager when they arrived in the US).

4) Two sentences to re-emphasize anything that you think is especially important, plus boilerplate polite ending.

And! You might ask if their immigration lawyer (if they have one) has any advice.
posted by spamandkimchi at 6:06 PM on August 13 [7 favorites]

My understanding of these letters is that they are pretty narrowly focused on the question of "is this a sham marriage for immigration purposes, or is there a bona fide and profound relationship between these two people?" Accordingly, I would focus your letter on how you've observed firsthand that this couple are in a genuine and loving relationship. There likely isn't much use in praising their other positive attributes unrelated to this question.

It may be beneficial to get the letter notarized - that might be something their immigration lawyer can advise you on.
posted by kickingtheground at 6:50 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]

If you attended their wedding then mentioning that adds credibility. If you were around when they dated and met. What first hand details can you share? That sort of thing.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:21 PM on August 13

I have also written such a letter, and spamandkimchi’s instructions are right on. You want to emphasize that they’re a great person, and some details to establish how you know that, and that their marriage/family relationship is real, and some details of how you know that.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:58 PM on August 13

I’ve written these, and I’m 2 for 2 on green cards!

For the most recent one, their lawyer had an example I could draw from. You should ask about that.

In general, you want to give specific information about how long you’ve known them and how you know they’re really married. Talk about how you met them and the kinds of things you’ve done with them as a couple, how you know they’re really in love. Describe their wedding (if you were there) and include details about members of their families who were present. If you have been a guest in their shared home, talk about that.

I agree with kickingtheground that this is way more about proving the legitimacy of the marriage than proving what awesome people they are.
posted by juliapangolin at 5:03 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]

I'm 3 for 3 on green card letters! Happy to send you my examples with personal info redacted if that would be helpful. But adding on to what everyone else said - describing where and how you first met them and the kinds of things/events you've done as a couple over the years. Extra points for times you went to their house and it was clear they both lived there, holidays and cultural events you celebrated, times their family members were present and who attended, major events and milestones - especially, as others have mentioned, their wedding!

In all three cases, I got some guidance about specifics either directly from the immigration lawyer or from my friends via their lawyer. I wrote one for US immigration, one for Canada and one for Australia and the requirements were all slightly different. US immigration wanted some information about me (including DOB and place of birth); Australia was OK with a more general outline of our friendship and the couple's relationship ("we met at my apartment in January 2013"); and Canada wanted very specific details ("we met at 123 xx St on January 27, 2013"). Some of this *may* have boiled down to my friends' - or their lawyers' - level of fastidiousness rather than legal requirement.

tl;dr I kept mine to 1-2 pages, very polite/formal business letter tone with as much joy as I could convey while retaining that level of formality; brief intro to say how long I've known the couple and that I was writing in enthusiastic support of their residency application; the whole story in chronological order with as many details as requested; wrap it up with a summary and a reiteration of their relationship being real/restating your support!
posted by sparkling at 8:56 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]

Is he getting his green card through marriage to a US citizen (your co-worker), or through his employment status? I imagine those might be different styles of letters?

So advice on a green card through marriage: I don't remember needing letters when I applied for a green card (through marriage), but maybe that has changed. But what my lawyer emphasized as documentation was not wedding/vacation photos/tales of love or the like, but was providing documents showing a co-mingling of financials. We demonstrated a joint bank account, some joint bills and a joint mortgage, and that was all we used. So maybe in the letter you include something to allude to that blending, and obviously reference to the baby.

In terms of a letter based on employment, I have had friends get letters for this purpose and it seemed much more about what they brought to the table (country) in terms of their skills, work ethic, reputation, awards, career accolades, long-term productivity and contribution to the community.
posted by nanook at 12:32 PM on August 14

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