DNA testing for immigration is quickly becoming an important tool of the US government. We send DNA collection kits to embassies all over the world. So here are a few things you need to know about immigration DNA testing.
DNA testing for immigration is no different than testing for relationships in legal matters. Namely, all samples must be collected by an independent third party and can never be in the possession of the person to be tested. When all participants in the test are in the US, we hire a local company to perform the collection by an appointment that we set. When participants are in another county we send the DNA collection kit directly to the embassy. The embassy hires a collector and schedules the appointment.
All immigration DNA testing must be performed by an AABB accredited lab. This is important because your results will not be accepted unless the lab is on the AABB list. What you need to know though is that while the lab might be in your state its unlikely you will go to the lab for your collection. It is more likely you will go to a collection site hired by the lab that is within 30 miles of where you live. Our lab is in Pennsylvania but we schedule collections all over the country.
If you have begun the immigration process and are wondering if you should get a DNA test just in case they ask for one, think again. Your contact at the embassy will give you a “Request for Evidence” advising that DNA testing might help your case. We always recommend you wait for this request. If they never ask you for DNA testing evidence you might spend hundreds of dollars unnecessarily.
The lab only takes a few days to get your official report back to the embassy. If you’ve been requested to get DNA testing you are at the mercy of the embassy to schedule your DNA collection and get the kit back to the lab. The shipping and collection will take longer than the analysis.
These are just a few of the points involved in DNA testing for immigration. Just be glad that when the embassy has asked you for DNA testing to prove a relationship, your long journey is getting close to the end.
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Sibling DNA testing is definitely different from paternity DNA testing in many ways. Ours is different from the rest because we test more markers than any other lab. More on that later. Probably the most distinct difference is the fact that two full siblings do not have to share a common DNA type at every marker. This makes the comparison purely statistical. Calculating the likelihood that two siblings are full siblings, half siblings or unrelated relies on how many markers they share in common and how rare the DNA type they share is in the population.
For many years the standard sibling DNA testing consisted of testing 16 markers with one being a gender marker. The 15 data points were plugged in to a complicated statistical formula and determined a percentage for full vs. half siblings and half siblings vs. unrelated. Not really “the good old days” for sibling DNA testing. An uncomfortable percentage of the sibling cases turned out to be inconclusive which was always a difficult explanation. It was as disappointing to me as it was the client. DNA testing siblings with 15 markers amounted to buying a new flat screen TV with black and white picture, not good!. While some labs today still test these same 15 markers clearly our clients needed an answer and I needed a better test to provide them with one.
In 2010, we developed new 40+ marker test for sibling and other non-paternity cases. This new test proved to dramatically reduce the number of inconclusive results and pushed most cases to +99.9%. It also highlighted issues with only testing 15 markers that we knew existed but that no one wanted to discuss. Mainly, an issue known as “misclassification”. Fancy way of saying “wrong answer!”. In 2011, We made the decision to only test non-paternity cases using our new 40+ marker test because the results spoke for themselves.
Paternity DNA testing is still the best test to determine who the true biological father is but the 40+ marker test has certainly made my job easier. At least now the results seem to be in full color.
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Inevitably the conversation about what I do for a living makes people say “like the Maury Povich show!”. I don’t get offended by this but maybe I should, its just that I’ve heard it a million times and I realize that the person saying it has not fielded the thousands of phone calls and emails like I have. They haven’t had to listen to grown men burst into tears when they find out the child is theirs or not theirs. My reply about Maury is typically something like this “We help people to know the truth about one of the most important questions in their lives. It doesn’t just affect the father, it affects the child, grandparents, and the mother. The lingering question of paternity can put so much stress on a relationship and those involved that it chips away at all involved.” Usually the person who said “like Maury” regrets ever mentioning it and I hope they get it. A DNA paternity test is not a joke it is a solution that can change lives.
A DNA paternity test these days is a simple thing with tons of scientific data, accuracy, and privacy. A paternity test is inexpensive and quick. I have been selling DNA tests for many years and have seen the technology get better and the price get cheaper. DNA testing is convenient. If you don’t need it for court you can make your own collection kit with Q-tips and envelopes right after you read this and have an answer in days. Seriously, it is that simple.
So who is ordering the tests. Obviously one of the parents typically but many grandparents get involved. Maybe its their wisdom kicking in and they see the importance to get an answer. The need for the child to grow up and know definitively who their father is.
We’ve all taken tests in school or to get a driver’s license but this test, this DNA paternity test is likely the most important test you’ll ever take because it will affect your family, not just now but long into your future and you might not like the results but its the truth.