May 8, 2008 (Cincinnati, OH). It has been more than a decade since all five of Attorney Sam Ezenagu’s siblings spent Mother’s Day with their mom.
This year, however, is different.
Four of the five Ezenagu children–now all grown and living together in the tri-state after immigrating to the United States from Nigeria–will be with their mother Caroline on Mother’s Day.
The last of the Ezenagu children, Anthonia, 48, picked up her legal permanent resident, or “green card” visa Friday, May 9, from the U.S. Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria.
This means that Anthonia will be able to join her family in the United States within six months, according to Mr. Ezenagu. Having her here will mean that the Ezenagu family is once again together.
“Since the approval of her visa, and now with all my brothers being here, it’s like we’re a wonderful family again,” Ezenagu said.
Mr. Ezenagu is one of Ohio’s most prominent immigration attorneys. He has offices in Cincinnati and Columbus, and has worked with over 1,000 clients on immigration-related cases. Many of his clients’ family stories resemble his own, Ezenagu said, with one or more family members who already have U.S. citizenship hoping to successfully bring their family members to the United States as legal permanent residents.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, over 431,000 individuals were granted legal permanent residency in the United States in 2007.
Anthonia will likely apply for U.S. citizenship as soon as she is eligible, Ezenagu said. After 5 years of residency, individuals with permanent visas can apply for citizenship if they so choose.
A standard immigration case can cost a person seeking citizenship at least $3,000 in legal fees, Ezenagu said, and the process can take months or years.
For his family and other families he has worked with, DNA testing is often one piece in a complicated puzzle that makes up the immigration process, Ezenagu said. The United States may request DNA testing to verify that a biological relationship exists between relatives before approving their application.
Local DNA testing laboratory DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC) performed the DNA tests for the Ezenagus, verifying that they were indeed biological relatives. DDC is located in Fairfield, Ohio, and has worked with thousands of clients over the past 13 years, providing DNA tests for immigration purposes. DDC’s Immigration Department routinely works with embassies abroad.
“When we meet our clients at the local Fairfield laboratory, we recognize and respect their need to reunite with their families,” said Glenda Sturtevant, assistant manager of DDC case management. “Some family members have been separated for many years. It is sometimes heart wrenching to hear their stories and know how difficult it is to be in a foreign country, without your loved ones near. One of the final steps in the immigration process is proving a biological relationship though DNA testing.”
DDC helped coordinate Anthonia’s DNA sample collection with the embassy-contracted physician in Lagos, Nigeria’s capital city. DDC recently released this DNA test report to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria.
“It has been a great experience working with DDC,” Ezenagu said. “What I like the most about it is the efficiency, and the experience that they have with these cases. When you’re dealing with the embassy, it could make anyone give up, but when you’re dealing with DDC’s office, all I had to do was talk to whomever was involved in the case, and they took care of everything.”
“For Mother’s Day on Sunday,” he said, “You know, we’ll probably just do a typical family get-together.”
For the Ezenagus, being “typical” probably has never been more significant.
DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC) is the world’s largest provider of private paternity tests. Since 1995, DDC has performed hundreds of thousands of genetic tests for clients around the world. DDC offers comprehensive DNA testing services in several specialty areas: family relationship testing, forensics, and veterinary DNA testing. As the leading force in the private DNA testing industry, DDC was one of the first to adopt robotics technology in its laboratory processes for stringent and efficient handling of DNA samples. DDC’s unique Dual Process™ ensures results of unmatched quality and reliability.
DDC’s quality DNA testing services are nationally and internationally recognized by a number of professional accrediting organizations such as ACLASS (for ISO/IEC-17025), the AABB, the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors–Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB-International), and the College of American Pathologists (CAP).