28 July 2006

DNA testing playing bigger role in US family migration

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US immigration officials are turning increasingly to the use of DNA testing to confirm potential immigrants are closely related to Citizens or permanent residents.

Although the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says it does not track how often DNA testing is used in immigration and citizenship cases, they do accept they have made more requests and companies offering genetic testing have reported a large rise.

U.S. citizens can petition to bring spouses, parents, children or siblings to the country, whilst legal permanent residents can apply for spouses and unmarried children to join them.

Many applicants, hoping to speed up what can prove to be a very lengthy process, are volunteering to undergo DNA testing to prove a family relationship, generally costing applicants at least $1,000 to do so.

To verify a test, the petitioner in the United States uses a government-approved company, which collects a saliva sample. The overseas relative then makes an appointment at their nearest U.S. embassy, where an official will take a sample and send it to the company. Test results can take three weeks to come through.

Immigration officials say that when they request DNA, it is usually for cases where applicants from poor countries do not have birth certificates, or when discrepancies raise suspicions of fraud.

Visit the American Visa Bureau to read more on family visas and family immigration to the United States.

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