Genetic testing is a useful tool for verifying a stated biological relationship when no other form of credible evidence is available in conjunction with an immigrant visa (IV) application or a citizenship application (CRBA or passport). DNA testing is the only biological testing method currently accepted by the Department of State to establish a biological relationship. However, due to the expense, complexity, and logistical delays inherent in parentage testing, genetic testing should be used only if no other credible proof (documentation, photos, etc.) of the relationship exists.
When genetic testing appears warranted, a Consular Officer may suggest applicants undergo DNA testing to establish the validity of the relationship(s). Please note that such testing is entirely voluntary and that all costs of testing and related expenses must be borne by the petitioner and/or beneficiary and paid to the laboratory in advance. In addition, submitting to testing does not guarantee the subsequent issuance of a passport, CRBA, or visa.
Below, you will find the process to follow if a Consular Officer has suggested DNA testing to establish the claimed biological relationship.
What Type of DNA Sample Method is Used?
Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing is the most accurate and widely available technology to test a biological relationship. The preferred specimen collection technique for DNA testing is by buccal (cheek or mouth cavity) swab. While there are different types of DNA tests, buccal cheek swabs are used rather than blood samples because they are easier to collect, non-invasive, painless, and easier to ship.
Accuracy of DNA Testing
DNA testing reliability has advanced to the industry-accepted standard of 99.99 percent. The accuracy of a DNA test conducted with a cheek swab is equivalent to a test conducted using a blood test. Consular officers may only accept test results reporting a 99.5 percent or greater degree of certainty with respect to paternity/maternity as sufficient to support a biological relationship between a parent and child in passport, CRBA and visa cases.
DNA Sample Collection Process
- Only AABB-accredited labs are authorized to conduct genetic testing. The list of accredited laboratories can be found at https://www.aabb.org/sa/facilities/Pages/RTestAccrFac.aspx.
- All DNA collections must take place at an AABB-accredited lab or at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If a DNA test is recommended, the parent/petitioner will initiate the process by selecting a laboratory where the DNA sample will be collected.
- The laboratory will send the DNA collection kit to the Consulate in Buenos Aires, and once received, we will contact the applicant/beneficiary to schedule the DNA sample collection.
- The appointment confirmation email will include details about what to bring to the appointment, including any related fees. The Consulate will then send the collected sample(s) directly to the selected laboratory for processing.
Receiving the Test Results and Next Steps
- The laboratory will send the test results to the Consular Section.
- When we receive the results from the laboratory, we will contact you. We will not accept results that are not sent directly by an accredited laboratory to the Consular Section.