Form I-192 allows inadmissible nonimmigrant aliens to apply for advance permission to temporarily enter the United States. Applicants are allowed to submit reference letters as part of their Form I-192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant.
Reference letters can serve as a means of demonstrating to the US government immigration (USCIS) and border authorities (CBP) that the individual is a trustworthy and law-abiding citizen. These letters can come from employers, community leaders, religious figures, or other individuals who can attest to the applicant’s good moral character (see a full list below).
Strong reference letters can help to personalize the I-192 application and humanize the applicant for immigration authorities in what can often be a very formal and bureaucratic process.
Who should you ask for a reference letter for Form I-192: Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant
Consider candidates from people you know at work, school, or in your personal life. It is generally advisable to avoid using a spouse or family member as a reference, as this may be perceived as biased by CBP and USCIS. Below is a list of potential candidates to help you brainstorm:
- Past/current employers
- Police officers/Firefighters/First responders
- Elder at the applicant’s congregation/leaders in your religious community
- A representative at the applicant’s union
- Leaders of organizations where applicant volunteers
Quality vs quantity of reference letters in Form I-192: Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant
When it comes to reference letters, the content of the letters is often more important than the number of letters provided. A well-written and detailed letter from a trusted and respected individual can be much more effective than a stack of generic and impersonal letters from people with little knowledge of your circumstances.
In the event that several compelling letters can be obtained, it is recommended that the applicant consult with their attorney to determine which letters would be most advantageous, or if all of them should be taken into consideration.
Reference letter content, Form I-192: Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant
To ensure that your character reference letter portrays you in a positive light, it’s essential to ask your reference to focus on highlighting your best qualities. Inform your reference of the purpose of the letter.
The content of the letters should be focused on the individual’s character, rehabilitation, and contributions to their community, and should provide specific examples and details that illustrate these qualities.
Letters that provide specific details about the individual’s past and current behavior, their remorse and commitment to change, and their positive impact on others are more likely to be effective than letters that simply offer generic praise or vague platitudes.
Generally, these letters either provide 1) description of the applicant’s good moral character and their achievements, showing that the immigration violation was an isolated incident, or 2) provide detail on how the applicant has reformed their character since the violation, or 3) do both 1 and 2.
- Good moral character and achievement: By providing real-world examples and anecdotes that illustrate the individual’s character and achievements, reference letters can help to paint a fuller picture of the individual’s trustworthiness. Especially in cases where the immigration violation can be attributed to a single incident, the evidence of strong character prior and after violation can show that the violation is an anomaly and not part of a pattern of behavior.
- Reformation of character: Reference letters can also document the applicant’s reformation of character for immigration authorities. Reference letters should discuss not only the personal accountability, and remorse about the applicant’s immigration violation, but if applicable, provide real-world examples of how the applicant’s character has been rehabilitated or reformed since their violation(s). For example, it can be helpful to discuss the applicant’s engagement in volunteering work since the immigration violation, their strong work ethic, or their achievement in school and/or at work.
Reference letter introduction, Form I-192: Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant
The introduction of a character reference letter typically includes three key components.
Firstly, the writer of the reference letter should state their credentials as the reason why their reference letter should be considered. If the reference knows the applicant in a professional or organizational capacity, they may also want to include their title or role to provide additional context.
Secondly, the writer of the reference letter should describe how they know the applicant, which may involve identifying a specific context such as work, school, volunteering, or community groups.
Finally, the reference should indicate how long they have known the applicant. This helps to establish the length of the relationship and the extent to which they are familiar with the applicant’s character. By providing a sense of the duration of the relationship, the reference can help to reinforce the credibility of their assessment of the applicant’s character.
|Introductory paragraph – tips for reference letter writers
|1. State your credentials/position as the reason why your reference letter should be considered
|2. Describe how you know the applicant
|3. Indicate how long you have known the applicant
Here is an example of a quick introductory paragraph:
Because the introductory paragraph can make a big impact on the reader, let’s look at the following example:
I am a public school teacher of thirty years. During my tenure at ________, I have been a very active member of the school’s faculty and my community and have been awarded with a _________ lifetime achievement award by _____________. I have known the applicant through teaching at _______ , where she has taken on responsibilities as the school nurse for the past eight years. During the past eight years, I often interacted with the applicant in our effort to help students in our school.
The above example:
- Explains why the reference writer’s opinion should be considered: many years of teaching experience, awarded lifetime achievement award for their work, very active in community. By providing this information, the writer positions themselves as someone who is likely to be a good judge of moral character of others.
- Clear statement of how the writer knows the applicant (working for the same employer in the same building). This shows that writer’s impression of the applicant is from direct interaction and documents frequency of interaction (“I often interacted with the applicant”).
- Clear timeline for length of time the writer has known the applicant (eight years).
Reference letter body, Form I-192: Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant
The main part of the character reference letter, the body of the letter, involves the reference providing their impression of your good moral character.
To make this section effective, it is important for the reference to include specific examples that support their assessment of your character.
On the surface level, if they describe you as reliable, they could provide examples such as always being punctual or never missing work or school. However, if more meaningful and extensive examples are available, they should be documented. Every strong character determination should have an example from which that determination is derived.
Other qualities that the reference could mention include being conscientious, having a strong work ethic, and being trustworthy. The writer of the reference must be truthful and use words that actually best describe your character. Inaccurate depictions of character are likely to substantially hurt and not help your application. Beyond mentioning good qualities, the reference should state why they arrived at their conclusions about your character.
|Body of the reference letter – tips for reference letter writers
|1. Provide your impression of the applicant’s good moral character
|2. Describe applicant’s characteristics, reliability, conscientiousness, work ethic, trustworthiness.
|3. Provide real-world examples and anecdotes that illustrate the individual’s character and achievements
|4. Provide real-world examples of how the applicant’s character has been rehabilitated. For example, an applicant can help build a case for character rehabilitation by engaging in volunteering work since the immigration violation, or through hard work and achievement in school and/or at work
|5. Keep in mind that statements about applicant that will have the most weight, will be backed by real-world examples. ***Letters that provide specific details about the individual’s past and current behavior, their remorse and commitment to change, and their positive impact on others are more likely to be effective than letters that simply offer generic praise or vague platitudes.***
Reference letter conclusion, Form I-192: Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant
A well-written conclusion to a reference letter should summarize the reference’s impression of the applicant’s good moral character. The conclusion should be brief but powerful, leaving the reader with a clear impression of the applicant’s character and qualities.
|Conclusion – tips for reference letter writers
|1. If you have known the applicant for a long time, and/or your background is helpful for this reference – summarize these helpful points
|2. Summarize the reference’s impression of the applicant’s good moral character.
|3. Make sure the conclusion is brief but powerful, leaving the reader with a clear impression of the applicant’s character and qualities.
For more on timeframes we are experiencing in obtaining approvals for Form I-192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant, please review the following article.
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Disclaimer: Remember that each case is different and prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.