USCIS And The U.S. Embassy DNA Testing Process Differences
Oddly enough, this question has been asked quite a bit over the last 12 yrs by many families I have assisted with the Immigration DNA testing process. Today, I will take a few moments to briefly explain the slight differences between USCIS and the U.S. Embassies and how they proceed when giving families the option to provide proof by way of DNA Testing. The keyword here is OPTION.
In order to properly define the two entities, I will list each entity’s procedures so you can clearly see the differences between the two.
USCIS DNA Testing Process
It is important to note there are several United States Citizenship And Immigration Services (USCIS) branches that are under USCIS such as the National Passport Agency and, anyone of them may require your family to provide proof of a biological relationship between a parent and child/ren. Here are some things your family can expect when receiving a document from USCIS Center.
1. Expect response deadlines that are usually between 30-90 days. We have come across certain situations where our client was given anywhere between 10-12 days. This is usually when all participants are located here in the U.S.
2. If you have a family member living abroad and you receive a Request For DNA Testing it important for your family to contact on of our DNA Testing specialist so may explain how to stay compliant with USCIS in the event coordinating an appointment in your country takes longer than the time issued by USCIS.
3. Last point, USCIS normally has an average turnaround time of about 6-8 weeks. Please note, each U.S. Embassy has two departments one for USCIS DNA Testing request and one for U.S. Embassy requests.
U.S. Embassy DNA Testing Process
This process is when your family receives documentation to provide proof of biological relationship from an Embassy Official or in some cases your family member go to an interview at the embassy and the Embassy Official verbally tells you to perform a DNA Test. Either way when embassies request a DNA Test the average turnaround times are different from country to country. Below are some of the things your family can expect if they are given the option to go through this process.
1. Embassy deadlines vary from country to country so you may need to consult with the DNA caseworkers assigned to your case. But, from our experience, African countries completion turnaround times range between 3 -6 months on average. The timeframe suggested can be longer if there is some turmoil in your country. It also important to note that if any country has inner turmoil that affects an Embassy’s ability to function.
All DNA Testing requests regardless who is requesting will be temporarily put on hold until the matter is reconciled. Currently, a perfect example of this is in Sierra Leone who recently started testing again this year. The temporary hold was due to the Ebola outbreak and when things like this happen you can expect to be waiting 10-12 months, or more depending on how the appointments are being handled in your country.
Here are some additional things that are also a part of this process that fall under both types of requests. All parties will be tested the same way, which is by buccal swab. Families who have families living abroad may be contacted by the embassy to schedule your appointment by phone or in some countries like Ghana you may be contacted via email. Emailed appointments from the U.S. Embassy in Ghana is only done in our experience by USCIS requested DNA Tests. Please consult with your assigned DNA caseworkers and they will explain the process in full detail.
In conclusion, both USCIS and U.S. Embassy DNA Test request are fairly similar, except for a few nuisances. Now, if you or someone you know is going through this process can have a better understanding of what to expect and if you should have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at 877-680-5800.
In an effort to help families with the USCIS DNA Testing Requirements below are the detail requirements as stated on http://travel.state.gov.
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. When buccal swabs are taken, cells are collected from the inside cheek or mouth using a long cotton 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 paternity and maternity (father-child/mother-child) 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 99.99percent or greater degree of certainty with respect to paternity/maternity as sufficient to support a biological relationship between a parent and child in passport and CRBA cases. When testing more distant relatives, a lower degree of probability of relationship to a U.S. citizen parent may be achieved, but it must also meet the requisite evidentiary standard in order to establish the claimed relationship to a U.S. citizen parent.
The Passport/CRBA Applicant’s DNA Sampling Process
The Embassy/Consulate Contacts the Applicant
Once the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad receives a DNA kit from an accredited laboratory in the United States, they will contact the passport/CRBA applicant (or parent(s) of the applicant if the applicant is a minor) who needs to provide a DNA sample, and provide him or her with an appointment to come to the Embassy/Consulate.
DNA Sampling Fees PRIOR to the Applicant’s Appointment
Before you or your family member’s appointment, payment for the sample collection must be arranged directly with the Embassy/Consulate local “panel” physician who will conduct the DNA sample collection. Upon payment, the panel physician will provide a receipt that must be presented at the appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you or your family member(s) do not bring the receipt to the appointment the DNA sample collection appointment will be rescheduled.
Step 5: Appear at the Embassy/Consulate for the Collection Appointment
In general, all DNA sample collection for passport/CRBA applicants and/or family members who are overseas must be done in the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate by a designated physician or medical technician and witnessed by Embassy or Consulate officers managing the process. The day of the DNA collection appointment, the applicant and/or family members must come to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate with the following documents:
- A photocopy of the U.S. citizen parent’s ID.
- The passport/CRBA applicant’s birth certificate
- A photo of the applicant
- A receipt from the panel physician showing payment for the DNA collection
After the collection has been taken, the Embassy will use the pre-paid and pre-addressed envelope to send the test kit back to accredited lab testing site in the United States. Under no circumstances will the test kit be released to the applicant, his/her family members, lab technician, or another party for the return to the AABB lab.