US Embassy: DNA testing is voluntary

US Embassy: DNA testing is voluntary

Ask the US Embassy

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

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Q: Why does the US Embassy suggest DNA testing?

A: Certain immigrant visa petitions, non-immigrant visa applications, or US passport cases require an applicant to demonstrate a biological relationship to a US citizen, legal permanent resident (LPR), or other beneficiary. Such a relationship can usually be demonstrated adequately by documentary or other evidence — birth certificates, family photos showing the subjects together over time, et cetera.

However, in some cases, an applicant's evidentiary information may not be available or sufficient to convince a consular officer of the biological relationship. In those cases, the officer may request a DNA test to confirm the relationship.

Please note that such testing is entirely voluntary. All costs of testing and related expenses must be borne by the petitioner or beneficiary, and paid to the laboratory in advance. In addition, submitting to testing does not guarantee the subsequent issuance of a visa.

Q: DNA testing has been requested in my case. If I choose to go through with the testing, how do I do it?

A: There are a few simple steps to completing the DNA testing process, however, this can take time so please get started right away.

1. First, your petitioner or their legal representative must select and contact one of the DNA testing facilities accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). To find an accredited lab to purchase a DNA testing service visit: http://www.aabb.org/sa/facilities/Pages/RTestAccrFac.aspx. Neither the applicant nor the petitioner will receive the physical kit. Instead, you provide your visa case information, personal details and contact information, and the company will match the DNA service to your case. The testing company will ask your petitioner, if they are based in the US, to come into an approved facility to be tested.

2. At the same time, for Jamaica-based individuals, the company will deliver a testing kit to the US Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. The embassy will call the applicant to schedule an appointment. The embassy's Consular Section will contact the applicant(s) at the telephone numbers and e-mail addresses their petitioners provided to the US laboratory for DNA testing. Minors, and those needing assistance, can bring a parent or guardian into the testing room. When scheduling the appointment, please indicate if someone will accompany the individual being tested.

3. Before the appointment, any Jamaica-based individual being tested will need to go to Andrews Memorial Hospital (27 Hope Road, Kingston) and pay a US$30 collection fee and bring the receipt with them to the embassy. This can be done the morning of the appointment and there is no need to make an appointment at the hospital to pay this fee.

4. Upon arriving at the embassy for the test, each applicant must present the following documents before testing:

• Passport;

• Photocopy of the biographic information page of your passport, which must be valid;

• A passport-sized photograph taken in the last six months;

• Receipt from Andrews Memorial Hospital showing payment of the DNA collection fee for each person who is being tested.

Without these documents, your appointment will be rescheduled.

5. At the appointment, a nurse from Andrews Memorial Hospital will swab the inside of your cheek — a quick and painless procedure. You will be asked to confirm your identity and the name and relationship (father, daughter, sister, et cetera) to be tested.

6. Once the nurse collects the samples, the DNA kit is sealed and handed to an American officer for processing and mailing. The sealed kits are then securely delivered back to the testing laboratory for analysis. It typically takes two weeks for the US Embassy in Kingston to receive the results. Once we receive the results, we will contact any Jamaica-based beneficiaries to give you instructions for the next steps in the visa or passport process. The embassy does not contact your petitioner in the United States, that communication comes directly from the testing laboratory.

Q: Are there any issues I should be aware of?

A: It is a common misconception that DNA kits can be bought anywhere, including at Andrews Memorial Hospital in Kingston. All DNA testing must be performed at a US Embassy or consulate if taken outside of the United States. Parties inside of the United States must be tested at an AABB-accredited lab.

Q: How is this service impacted by COVID-19?

A: Currently, the US Embassy is operating at limited staffing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Services, such as DNA testing, are not being routinely provided. However, please continue with the process and the embassy will contact you when your case is ready for testing.

The US Embassy has put in place stringent protocols to protect applicants in the waiting areas, including limiting the number of people at one time to permit adequate social distancing, requiring the wearing of cloth face coverings, and providing hand sanitiser. The nurse who does the DNA swab wears personal protective equipment. Everyone's health and safety is our top priority. If you have a specific case question, please e-mail kingstondnatesting@state.gov.

The latest information on our operating status can be found on our website at www.jm.usembassy.gov or by visiting www.travel.state.gov . Keep on top of embassy news on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/USEmbassyJamaica/ and by following @USEmbassyJA on Twitter .


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