DNA Relationship Testing Procedures
Overview - DNA Testing, Used with Some Immigrant Visa Applications
Genetic testing is a useful tool for verifying a stated biological relationship when no other form of credible evidence is available in conjunction with an immigrant visa (IV) application. Commonly tested relationships that utilize DNA testing include paternity, maternity, full-siblingship, or half-siblingship. More distant relationships cannot be proven reliably using DNA testing. DNA technology is the only non-documentary method accepted for proof of a biological relationship. However, due to the expense, complexity, and logistical delays inherent in parentage testing, genetic testing should be used only if no other credible proof (documentation, photos, etc.) of the relationship exists.
When genetic testing appears warranted, a Consular Officer may suggest visa applicants undergo DNA testing to establish the validity of the relationship(s). Please note that such testing is entirely voluntary; and that all costs of testing and related expenses must be borne by the petitioner and/or beneficiary and paid to the laboratory in advance. In addition, submitting to testing does not guarantee the subsequent issuance of a visa.
Below, you will find the process to follow if a Consular Officer has suggested DNA testing to establish the claimed biological relationship.
What Type of DNA Sample Method is Used?
Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing is the most accurate and widely available technology to test a biological relationship. The preferred specimen collection technique for DNA testing is by buccal (cheek or mouth cavity) swab. When buccal swabs are taken, cells are collected from the inside cheek or mouth using a long cotton swab. While there are different types of DNA tests, buccal cheek swabs are used rather than blood samples because they are easier to collect, non-invasive, painless, and easier to ship.
Accuracy of DNA Testing
DNA testing reliability has advanced to the industry-accepted standard of 99.5 percent. The accuracy of a DNA test conducted with a cheek swab is equivalent to a test conducted using a blood test. Consular officers may only accept test results reporting a 99.5 percent or greater degree of certainty with respect to paternity/maternity as sufficient to support a biological relationship between a parent and child in visa cases.
The Petitioner’s DNA Sampling Process
Step 1: Locating an Accredited Facility
If a DNA test is recommended the petitioner (you) will initiate the process by selecting a laboratory where the DNA sample will be collected. The laboratory you select must be accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). To find the laboratory in the United States nearest you, visit their list of Accredited Facilities.
Note: The list of laboratories is based on the physical location of the lab’s headquarters. To find the most convenient location, you should be able to choose from the full list of AABB laboratories that conduct DNA testing. After you have located a facility it is your responsibility to both set an appointment and pay the required fees. Under no circumstances should a third party be involved in the process of selecting a lab, scheduling the appointment, or any other process outlined in the next steps.
Note: Fraudulent DNA Labs - Beware of labs that claim to be accredited by AABB, or to be affiliated with an AABB lab, but are not. We only accept testing kits and results from AABB-accredited labs. If a lab is not listed on the AABB’s website, then you should not use it for the purposes of an immigration DNA test.
Step 2: Petitioner DNA Sample Collection
Petitioners must not directly receive test kits for themselves or their beneficiaries.
At your appointment, you will submit DNA by a buccal swab. After the sample is provided, the AABB collection site or clinic must submit the test kit (sample) directly to their main AABB lab testing site.
Test Kit for the Visa Applicant - Under no circumstances should you receive the DNA test kit for yourself or relative. The AABB testing site which the petitioner selects, will forward the test kit along with a pre-addressed, pre-paid envelope to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where your relative(s) will be tested.
The Visa Applicant’s DNA Sampling Process
Step 3: The Embassy Contacts the Applicant
Once the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad receives a DNA kit from an accredited laboratory in the United States, they will contact the visa applicant who needs to provide a DNA sample, and provide him or her with an appointment to come to the Embassy or Consulate.
Step 4: DNA Sampling Fees PRIOR to the Applicant’s Appointment
Before your family member’s appointment, they must arrange payment for the collection directly with the the panel physician that will conduct the DNA sampling. When they pay the fee a receipt will be given to them that they must bring to their appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If your family member fails to bring the receipt to the appointment they will be required to reschedule the DNA collection appointment.
Step 5: Appear at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for the Collection Appointment
All DNA collection for visa applicants is done in the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate by a designated physician or medical technician and witnessed by Embassy or Consulate officers managing the process. The day of your DNA collection appointment, the applicant must come to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with the following documents:
- The visa applicant’s passport
- A photo of the applicant
- A receipt from the panel physician showing payment for the DNA collection
After the collection has been taken, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will use the pre-paid and pre-addressed envelope to send the test kit back to accredited lab testing site in the United States. Under no circumstances will the test kit be released to the beneficiary, lab technician, or other party for return to the AABB lab.
Receiving the Test Results and Next Steps
Once the analysis is complete, the AABB laboratory in the United States will send the results directly to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Once the Embassy or Consulate receives the results, the visa applicant will be contacted in order to continue processing his or her visa application to conclusion. Only results sent directly to the Embassy or Consulate by the AABB lab will be accepted. Submitting to DNA testing does not guarantee visa issuance.
For copies of the results either the petitioner or beneficiary may contact the AABB laboratory directly. Please note that the Embassy or Consulate will not provide the petitioner or applicant with a copy of the laboratory results.