Soteria Screening


How the DNA Testing Process Works for Immigrant Visas

Foreign individuals seek immigrant visas when they want to make the United States their permanent residence. In order to be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa, the applicant must be sponsored by a relative who is a U.S. citizen, a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. (i.e. a green card holder), or a potential employer, though some exceptions do exist. The first step in obtaining an immigrant visa is for the applicant to file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

A citizen of the United States can file a petition on behalf of a spouse, son or daughter, parent, or sibling, however a green card holder can only file a petition for their spouse or for their unmarried son or daughter. Employers can sponsor skilled workers that they are considering hiring for permanent positions. Depending on the field in which the worker is employed, immigrants may even be permitted to sponsor themselves.

U.S. law actually limits the number of immigrant visas that are issued each year, and general limits actually vary by country. Once the limit is reached, prospective applicants will be added to a waiting list. Those on the waiting list, if qualified, will be issued their visas in chronological order in accordance to the date when their petitions were filed (the “priority date”).

For those seeking immigrant visas, a DNA test may often accompany their application process. The DNA test is performed in order to establish that familial relationships exist when there is no other evidence present to offer proof of same. Common DNA testing situations include paternity, maternity, and full or half-siblingship. DNA, or genetic, testing is rather expensive, though, so those considering such a test need to really do their research to ensure no other avenues exist to verify such a relationship.

When it seems like genetic testing is warranted for the situation at hand, then a Consular Officer may suggest that visa applicants undergo it. Ultimately, the decision is voluntary, and all costs must be paid by the petitioner and/or beneficiary before the testing can begin. Importantly, just because someone agrees to and undergoes genetic testing, this does not automatically guarantee that they will be issued an immigrant visa.

DNA testing may be expensive, but that’s because it is nearly foolproof (it has an accuracy rating of 99.5 percent) when attempting to establish a biological relationship. It is also the most popular testing method available, and it is incredibly easy to perform. All the applicant needs to do is to sit for a swabbing of his or her mouth cavity or cheek (a buccal swab). The buccal swab uses a long cotton swab to collect cells from the inside of the applicant’s cheek or mouth.

Understandably, Consular Officers will often not accept test results that are any less than 99.5 percent accurate when attempting to determine paternity or maternity, especially when it pertains to proving that a biological relationship exists between a parent and child as they undergo the visa process.

Of course, blood tests still exist in DNA testing, and they are just as accurate. However, for these purposes a buccal swab is the go-to method because it is faster and less invasive to collect, easier to ship, and completely painless.