I'll put you in context. I am from Europe and I live there. Because of my work, I usually travel to the US in order to attend scientific conferences. So, when you repeatedly participate in those meetings you meet people who work on similar topics and you cite their publications in your work.

An acquaintance met in a conference, is residing in the US and he is trying to obtain permanent residency under the classification of National Interest Waiver (NIW). He has asked me for a recommendation letter, assuming that his work was useful for me (I cited the work).

I've lived all my life in Europe and I had no idea of that kind of process. I would like to know what are the consequences of helping him. How can it affect my future relations with US (travel, internships, projects, work...)?

If I agreed, he would send me a draft written by his lawyer.

Do not hesitate to ask for more information, it is all I know, though.

Thank you.

  • 4
    IMHO you are being put in a very awkward position by someone who is an acquaintance, whom you met only in a professional capacity. I don't see how you could offer substantive evidence of what would be in the US national interest, and I would be reluctant to put my name to a recommendation, particularly one drafted by a lawyer who is representing him (not you). It's impossible to judge whether doing so could negatively affect you, probably wouldn't, but if it makes you uncomfortable, it may be better to decline.
    – Giorgio
    Jan 24, 2019 at 18:06

1 Answer 1


Good news: Unless your acquaintance decides to let off a dirty bomb in New York, it’s unlikely that you’ll face any negative repercussions for vouching for them.

Bad news: On the other hand, unless you are the director of Lawrence Livermore National Lab, head of vision research at CMU, or some equivalent and can vouch that having the person be able to work in the USA serves the national interest of the USA, your letter will account for absolutely nothing. In fact, it may actually count for less than nothing in that the best character reference this person could find was a foreign scholar who might have met them once or twice at a conference. If I understand correctly, you have zilch capacity to speak towards the national interests of the USA or the bona fides of this person. This person is trying to vouch for exceptional ability, they should have no trouble finding US nationals of prominent stature to vouch for them.

In the end, the risk:benefit ratio tends towards a very slight risk for zero to negative benefit. I’d avoid if I was in your situation.


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