How to write a letter for someone to not be deported

Updated March 23, 2017

When a foreign national faces deportation, employers, friends and loved ones look for ways to help. Unfortunately, once the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service has decided to deport someone, it can be very difficult to halt or reverse the process. Character references and financial-security guarantees probably will not be effective because deportation decisions are based on larger violations of immigration law --- usually involving immigration fraud or a person being out of status on his visa. Letter writers need compelling evidence and arguments to effectively prevent a deportation.

Talk to an immigration attorney about the issues of your deportee's case. Discuss how your letter can benefit him and any information or topics that could be potentially harmful. Letters can worsen the situation if they are not crafted properly.

Use a formal letter format that includes your name and address in the top left corner, the addressee's name and department mailing address, the date of your letter and a formal salutation. Your letter needs to be professional and respectful. Immigration officials have tremendous discretion in deciding the outcome of cases. Your letter needs to garner their respect and sympathy.

Begin your letter with your purpose for writing and the central facts or issues of the case. Keep your writing concise and factual with as many relevant details as possible including dates, times, names, travel itineraries, visa numbers, proof of immigration filings and records of conversations. Facts will have the most impact, but you can also make arguments that apply statutes and regulations to your deportee's case. Help immigration officials understand why the situation or the law does not support deportation.

Include evidence if available. Copies of immigration filings, passport entries, letters from USCIS and other federal agencies, contracts of employment and financial documents can all be useful --- particularly if they establish an error by USCIS or U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Have an immigration attorney review your letter to ensure that the contents and format are effective. Edit the letter as necessary according to the attorney's advice.

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About the Author

Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.