Immigration TALK: Why is DNA Testing Required?

June 12, 2011 | By | Filed Under News 

By Attorney Gail S. Seeram,

In many cases, the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may ask a petitioner to submit a DNA test proving the parental or brother/sister relationship with the beneficiary.  Some people are taken aback by this request since they feel that the birth certificate is sufficient in proving the relationship.
The first reason why a DNA test may be requested is because the U.S. Department of State at one time had a fraud warning posted on Guyana birth certificates.  The reason for the fraud warning was because it was believed that people could obtain a fraudulent birth certificate from the black market in Guyana.  Thereby, if the birth certificate presented displays any characteristics of fraud, then a DNA test will be required between the petitioner and beneficiary.
Next, a DNA test may be required when a parent is filing for a child and that child was born out-of-wedlock, meaning the parents were not married.  In particular, when a father is filing for a child and the father never married the child’s mother, then a DNA test may be required.
In these situations, the U.S. Immigration may request a DNA test to confirm this is the biological father filing the petition and not someone who claims to be the father.  In addition, evidence to prove that the father legitimized the child would also be required to prove the parent-child relationship (such as proof of financial support and proof father held child out to be his).
Lastly, a DNA test may be required in sibling relationships where brothers or sisters have only one similar parent (in other words, step-brother/step-sister relationships).  In these cases, a DNA test is requested and the percentage of likelihood is examined in order to prove the relationship.
What is DNA? DNA is the carrier of the genetic material that determines who you are (genetically).  Your genetic makeup (who you are genetically which controls things like eye color, hair color, bone structure, organ size, etc.) is controlled by the paring of the chromosomes contained from the female’s egg (23 chromosomes from her) and the chromosomes from the male’s sperm (23 from him).  Each of the 46 total chromosomes is made up of long threads of a very specific type of molecule called DNA, or deoxyrivonucleic acid. Each molecule of DNA is made up of thousands of genes, which determine your “genetic makeup”.
The DNA test is not intrusive, as the lab simply takes a quick swipe or sample of the saliva in your mouth (there are no needles or blood involved).  There are many labs that work internationally and coordinate DNA testing between petitioners in the U.S. and beneficiaries living abroad.
U.S. Immigration accepts DNA testing from labs accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks.  A list of accredited labs can be obtained from the following website:

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