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Immigration DNA Testing

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What is DNA Testing?

DNA testing uses scientific techniques to determine a person’s identity.  This is usually done by analyzing blood samples or cotton swab samples taken from cells on the inside of the cheek. 

Thus, a court may order DNA testing if a person’s identity needs to be established.  DNA testing can also be used to establish a blood-relationship between two persons by comparing their samples.  This is commonly used in paternity determinations, where the court needs to conclude which person is the father of a child.   

Is DNA Testing Required for Visa Applications?

DNA testing is generally not required for visa applications.  If the identity of a visa applicant is in question, the identity can usually established through the use of birth certificates and other similar documents.

On the other hand, if a person is petitioning a blood relative (such as a sibling or child), an immigration judge may order DNA testing for both persons in order to establish that the two parties are in fact related.  Again, blood relationships are usually established through birth certificates. 

However, it sometimes happens that a birth certificate was lost or destroyed, or is somehow inaccurate.  If this is the case, DNA testing can be a last resort for persons wishing to petition their loved ones through the immigration system.  The results from the DNA test can be used as evidence to show that two people are related for the purposes of immigration petitioning.

What if the Results from an Immigration DNA Test are Unfavorable?

DNA tests are generally accepted as being up to 99% accurate.  This means that although most DNA tests are reliable, there is still a chance that a DNA test can produce false results.  If a DNA test indicates that you and your loved one are not related, you still have several options in terms of petitioning your relative:

  • If you are allowed to, consider having the DNA test redone.  It is possible that the DNA lab made a mistake during the original testing.
  • If you are petitioning a child younger than 18 years old, and you were married to their natural parent at some point, you may be able to petition them under the stepchild category. 
  • For persons petitioning a child, you can also consider adopting the child
  • Inquire about the Visa Lottery Program, which distributes about 50,000 visas for eligible individuals from various countries.  

Thus, DNA testing for immigration purposes is somewhat different from DNA testing in criminal prosecutions.  In a criminal case, DNA evidence is often used against a defendant in order to determine their guilt.  In an immigration context, DNA testing can actually be a method that widens a person's options under immigration law.

Do I Need a Lawyer for an Immigration DNA Test?

If need to take a DNA test for immigration purposes, you may wish to contact an immigration lawyer for advice.  Your attorney can help advise you on the different requirements under immigration and visa laws.  You may also wish to contact an attorney before you begin the petitioning process, so that they can assist you throughout the process.   

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 05-22-2018 08:14 PM PDT

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