Do You Need a DNA Test for Immigration?
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security oversees the agency that administers naturalization and immigration services. which is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) grants citizens and legal permanent residents the benefit of petitioning for certain relatives to immigrate to the U.S. Immediate family members, such as children, spouses, parents, and siblings, account for almost 69% of immigrants who apply for lawful permanent resident status (commonly referred to as “green cards”)in the United States do so by petitioning through a family member.
Often, when the paperwork needed to prove that two people are related is destroyed, or cannot be found, the immigration case worker will require the parties involved to take a DNA paternity or family relationship test. DNA testing offers the benefits of reducing immigration fraud, and making the process easier for those immigrants applying for status that are without documentation.
Our test can be used for immigration and Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) or US Passport purposes to prove a biological relationship as requested by an embassy or USCIS.
USCIS Immigration Requirements
To convey U.S. citizenship to a child born abroad, the parent, or parents, who hold U.S. citizenship need to establish the biological relationship with their child or children. Legal documents that are typically used to prove this relationship include marriage and birth certificates, and adoption papers. DNA testing is used primarily when other sufficient evidence isn’t available to establish the biological relationship.
Since 2018 the USCIS doesn’t have regulatory authority to require DNA testing, and an immigration worker can only suggest that a person go through the DNA testing process. This is often, however, the quickest way to resolve some identification concerns that the USCIS has raised. If a test is done, only results of DNA testing done through an AABB (American Association of Blood Banks) accredited lab are accepted. DNA tests used in citizenship cases may be of the following relationships:
- Father-child (Legal Paternity Test)
- Mother-child (Legal Maternity Test)
- Child and full or half brother or sister (Legal Sibling Test)
- Grandparent(s) of the child (Legal Grandparent Test)
- Child’s paternal aunt/uncle (Legal Avuncular Test)
The DNA Immigration Test Process
Immigration DNA testing in the United States follows the required steps listed below.
Requirements prior to testing
- Receive paperwork from USCIS or other agencies requesting DNA evidence of a relationship between the petitioner and beneficiary. Ordering a test prior to having USCIS paperwork can result in delays and possibly paying for another test.
- Complete the information request form at the bottom of this page to initiate the beginning steps of a DNA test. You will need to provide contact information for each person to be tested. USCIS generally gives a deadline of about 90 days for the testing to be completed, so do this as soon as possible.
- Scan, attach, and upload a copy of the USCIS document, or other paperwork, requesting the testing to the form you have entered the information for step 2 above. All information should be provided at the same time to avoid delays.
- After receiving this information, we will schedule a consultation with our partner lab on your behalf.
The AABB process for DNA immigration testing
- The petitioner has an appointment scheduled for a DNA collection appointment in the USA.
- The petitioner’s DNA sample is collected.
- Our partner lab ships a DNA collection kit to the U.S. embassy/immigration office in the beneficiary’s home country.
- The embassy/immigration office collects the beneficiary’s DNA sample and ships the samples back to the lab.
- Once testing is complete, our partner lab sends the legally defensible (chain of custody) test results and a clear explanation of the results to the proper immigration authorities and the U.S. petitioner.
- If all parties are already within the United States, the process will proceed as a regular legal DNA test as explained on this website.
DNA Immigration Testing FAQs
No. The DNA sample must follow a strict chain-of-custody process to protect its integrity, as with any legal DNA test. This requires verifying and confirming the identity of the individuals whose DNA is submitted.
No. The USCIS requires that the testing laboratory is located in the United States, and is accredited by the AABB. As an AABB-accredited testing facility, our lab partner meets these stringent requirements and completes thousands of these important tests each year.
Typically, this type of legal DNA test costs between $499 - $699, depending on the test, and the situation surrounding the case. You will be provided with an exact price in your free consultation with our lab's immigration specialist. There is no obligation to do the testing through our partner lab after this consultation.
Although this may vary by embassy, these are the items you should bring to the DNA collection appointment:
- A photocopy of the U.S. citizen parent’s ID
- The passport or Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) applicant’s birth certificate
- A photo of the applicant
- A receipt from the panel physician showing payment for the DNA collection
You should arrive at least 15 minutes early for your interview to allow for security checks and have all documents ready. Swabbing your cheek takes seconds, but other factors contribute to the duration of your appointment.
When you order a DNA immigration test , the results are usually ready as soon as two working days after samples arrive at our lab.
According to the USCIS, the length of time varies from case to case and therefore can’t be accurately predicted for individual cases. Some cases are delayed because applicants don’t follow instructions carefully. Some visa applications require further administrative processing after the visa applicant’s interview by the consular officer. Other sites state that an immigration visa can take 18 months to 3 years, depending on the circumstances.