2014 Guide to Immigration DNA Testing

The ultimate guide for US Visa applicants and petitioners to Immigration DNA Testing rules and guidelines.
Jared Rosenthal
Published on

Who Needs an Immigration DNA Test?

When the US Department of State reviews a visa application, they want evidence that proves that the applicant is truly related to the American sponsor. Accordingly, if you are a petitioner applying for a relative to get a visa to come to the United States, they will ask you to provide documents, like birth certificates and family photos, to substantiate those relationships. Absent these things, or even if you have documents and they decide they still want more proof, an Immigration DNA Test be required to verify your relationship with the petitioner.

A DNA test indisputably proves a family relationship like paternity, maternity, and full or half siblings. A DNA test is the only method that can be used to prove a biological relationship if you don’t have documents, or if the documents you provide are not accepted or not sufficient. If a Consular Officer suggests DNA testing, it is entirely voluntary, but clearly, it is in your best interests to proceed with their suggestion. The government does not pay for the test – all costs are paid by the applicant or the petitioner. And, you should know, taking a DNA test in now way guarantees you’ll get approved for a visa. And, there is also the small risk that the biological relationship you thought you had is not really true; in other words, sometimes people find out things they really didn’t set out to find, such as their father, brother, sister, or even mother is not really related to them.

If a Consular Officer requests an Immigration DNA Test, here’s what you need to know:

Are Needles Involved?

No. Today, DNA testing by buccal (inner cheek) swab is highly accurate and completely painless. By simply swabbing the inner cheek with a cotton swab (similar to a Q-tip), we can obtain enough of your cells to perform the test. It’s easy, non-invasive, and fast.

Accuracy of Cheek Swab vs. Blood Test

The accuracy of a DNA test has to do with the DNA itself, not the method for collecting it. Therefore, a cheek swab test is identical in accuracy to a blood test. That’s why we don’t use blood any more – it’s just not necessary. Positive paternity and maternity results always return a reliability of 99.9 percent or greater, while sibling studies can vary depending on the two individuals’ DNA profiles in comparison with one another. The US Consulate offices typically require 99 percent or greater degree of certainty in order to establish a relationship. Therefore, sibling studies carry a small risk of inconclusiveness that should be considered before proceeding with the test.

Providing a DNA Sample – the Petitioner

First, you must select a laboratory that is accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). While Health Street is not itself an accredited laboratory, all of our Immigration DNA tests are set up and processed by accredited labs. We guarantee any Immigration DNA tests that are initiated by working with Health Street will be acceptable to the US Consular Officer on the basis of this. Once you decide you want to proceed, you should schedule an appointment and make the appropriate payments.

You should also be careful not to work with companies that make false claims of AABB accreditation or affiliation. The US Department of State is not going to accept results from a non-accredited lab, and there have been reports of fraudulent claims being made by some companies. Health Street is accredited by the Better Business Bureau.

Once you verify your test and schedule your appointment, you will simply come into a collection site, which will send your specimens to the AABB laboratory.

Providing a DNA Sample – the Applicant

The AABB lab will ship the a DNA collection kit for the applicant to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where your relative(s) will be tested, in their home country. Shipping costs vary by country, and must be paid by the Applicant. Under no circumstances will the kit be shipped until after the Petitioner has provided his/her specimens. (In cases where the applicants are already residing in the United States, of course, this step is not necessary, as the applicants can be tested here). As soon as the U.S. Embassy or Consulate receives the collection kit, they will contact your relative, the applicant, to schedule him or her to come in for the specimen collection. In some countries, there is a fee charged before the applicant can come in to the Consulate office. If there is a fee, your family member(s) must pay this directly in their home country. This small fee is separate from the costs of the test that are paid in the US. The applicant must bring the following documents with them when they come to the appointment at the Consulate or Embassy:

  • Applicant’s Passport
  • Applicant’s Passport photos
  • Receipt for Payment for the Specimen Collection

The Immigration DNA Test Analysis and Report

Once the cheek swabs are done, the specimens will be shipped back to the AABB laboratory in the USA where the petitioners’ specimens are awaiting their arrival for testing. Analysis typically takes 2 to 5 business days from the time these specimens arrive from abroad. As soon as the report is ready, the laboratory will send the results directly to the US Consular Office. At this point, they will contact the petitioner to continue with the application process.

Keep in mind that the US Consulate or Embassy must receive the Immigration DNA Test report directly from the AABB lab. You cannot bring it to them yourself. Health Street will, of course, provide you with a copy of the report for your records, and rest assured, our AABB lab will send the report directly to the Consulate or Embassy.

Next Steps

If the relationship is proven, you’re in good shape. Though even a 99.99 percent result doesn’t guarantee that your relatives will be approved to come here, it has been shown to be a tremendous help in most cases. Good Luck!!

WRITTEN BY

Jared is the Founder of Health Street, the creator of the Who's Your Daddy DNA truck, and the host of VH1's Swab Stories.

WRITTEN BY

Jared is the Founder of Health Street, the creator of the Who's Your Daddy DNA truck, and the host of VH1's Swab Stories.

FEATURED IN

DNA Testing

Read Health Street's dramatic and informative DNA testing stories.

FEATURED IN

DNA Testing

Read Health Street's dramatic and informative DNA testing stories.