Why the US Embassy suggests DNA testing

Q: What is DNA testing?

A: Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing is the most accurate and widely available technology to test a biological relationship.

Q: Why does the US Embassy suggest DNA testing?

A: Certain immigrant visa petitions, non-immigrant visa applications, US passport cases or Reports of Birth Abroad require an applicant to demonstrate a biological relationship to a US citizen, US legal permanent resident (LPR), or other beneficiary. Such a relationship can usually be demonstrated adequately by documentation or other evidence, eg birth certificates, family photos showing the subjects together over time, et cetera. However, sometimes, the evidentiary information may not be available or is insufficient to convince a consular officer of the biological relationship. In those cases, the officer may recommend 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 and/or beneficiary. These costs must be paid to the laboratory in advance of the test. In addition, submitting to testing does not guarantee the subsequent issuance of a visa or passport.

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.) 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 United States, to come into an approved facility to be tested. If the petitioner is in Jamaica, then they will be tested with you.

2.) For Jamaica-based individuals, the company will deliver a testing kit to the US Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. 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. If you are currently residing in the Cayman Islands, please still send your DNA testing kit to the embassy in Kingston, Jamaica as we perform DNA testing for the Cayman Islands. For those based outside of Jamaica, when scheduling your appointment you will indicate the date you will arrive in Jamaica and the embassy will schedule you for the closest available testing date after you have completed your 14-day quarantine in Jamaica. At the time of your interview, the American officer will verify you have fulfilled your quarantine; you will be refused entry to the embassy until you have completed your quarantine.

Please note: Minors are required to be accompanied by their parent or guardian into the DNA testing room. When scheduling the appointment, please indicate if someone will accompany the individual being tested.

3.) Before the appointment, each individual being tested in Jamaica will need to go to Andrews Memorial Hospital (27 Hope Road, St Andrew) and pay a US$30 collection fee and bring the receipt with them to the embassy. Make sure this fee is paid for every individual who will be doing DNA testing. 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:

· Valid passport;

· Photocopy of the biographic information page of your passport;

· A passport-size photograph taken in the last six months; and

· The receipt from Andrews Memorial Hospital showing payment of the DNA collection fee for each person who is being tested.

Without these documents, you cannot be tested. If you are feeling unwell, please inform the embassy by emailing KingstonDNATesting@state.gov asking to reschedule your appointment.

5.) At the appointment, you will be asked to confirm your identity and the name and relationship (father, daughter, sister, et cetera) to be tested. An American officer will be present for your DNA collection. A nurse from Andrews Memorial Hospital will swab the inside of your cheek — a quick and painless procedure. Make sure you can open your mouth wide for the buccal swab to be done correctly.

6.) Once the nurse collects the samples, the DNA swab is sealed and handed to the American officer for processing. Please remain seated to observe the American officer seal your entire package. The sealed kits are then securely delivered back to the testing laboratory for analysis. It typically takes two or three weeks for the US Embassy in Kingston to receive the results. Remember, if the petitioner is being tested in the United States and has yet to be tested, then the results will not be ready until they have completed their DNA testing.

7.) Once the US Embassy receives the results, embassy in Kingston 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, but the DNA testing lab will send them a copy of the results.

8.) If your case is still with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the US Embassy will not contact you regarding your results. USCIS will contact your petitioner in the United States. If you have questions regarding your case with USCIS, please contact them using their website: www.uscis.gov.

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 performed 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: The Consular Section is open for limited visa services. We are constantly adjusting our operational posture based on our resource limitations and in response to local circumstances. Unfortunately, with the uptick in COVID-19 cases in Jamaica, we continue to be on a reduced staffing pattern to protect our applicants and our staff. We will expand services as the local situation improves.

DNA testing services are being provided on a weekly basis. The embassy will contact the DNA applicants to schedule an appointment. Please commit to your scheduled appointment as there is no guarantee as to when another appointment will become available.

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 mask coverings, and providing hand sanitiser. The nurse who does the DNA swab wears personal protective equipment. Everyone’s health and safety are our top priorities. If you have a specific case question, please e-mail KingstonDNATtesting@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. We also answer general consular questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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