A legal DNA test is the only type of DNA testing admissible in courts because it follows a chain-of-custody process. One of the top reasons people order legal tests is for immigration purposes, however, there are some important distinctions between immigration and all other legal applications. Aside from immigration, legal tests are used for:
- Accessing paternity rights such as life and medical insurance, Veteran’s benefits, Social Security, and inheritance
- Protecting a father’s rights outside of marriage
- Custody and visitation rights
Chain of Custody in DNA Testing
The chain-of-custody process is required for any legal DNA paternity test and it’s also used for immigration testing. The following steps are taken and the results are legally defensible in courts and other government agencies.
- The tested parties must be properly identified when their samples are collected (government-issued IDs are verified and photocopied)
- The DNA samples are collected by a neutral third party—someone who has no personal interest in the outcome of the test (e.g., a hospital, clinic, or laboratory staff person)
- The samples are tamper-taped, securely packaged at the collection site, and carefully inspected upon receipt for any evidence of tampering
Procedure for Legal Tests Other Than Immigration
- Call the lab directly to request a legal test
- The lab makes an appointment (or appointments) for you at an approved DNA-collection facility nearby your home
- A sample-collection kit is sent directly to the facility
- Participants show up at the designated times (they don’t have to be present at the same appointment)
- The DNA collector checks IDs, takes photos, and supervises or performs DNA collection
- The DNA collector fills out necessary paperwork and mails samples to the lab
- When ready, the results report is posted to a secure online account or a hard-copy version can be delivered via mail*
*For security reasons, reports are never delivered via email
Procedure for USCIS DNA Testing
In America, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) governs the immigration process. DNA testing for immigration cases include paternity, maternity, full-siblingship, or half-siblingship. The process is stricter and involves more steps than a legal DNA paternity test done for other purposes, butt the DNA test cost for USCIS is generally the same as any other legal DNA test. These are the requirements:
- An immigration DNA test must be requested by the USCIS or Consulate office before the test is ordered or performed
- USCIS-approved DNA testing centers are laboratories accredited by the AABB
- The test must follow chain of custody to ensure the integrity of the entire process
- Proof of a biological relationship by DNA testing must result in a minimum 99.5% probability
- Under no circumstances should a third party be involved in selecting a lab, scheduling the appointment, or any other part of the process
Key Differences: Immigration vs. Other Legal DNA Tests
The person undergoing DNA testing can’t request the test until they have the order in hand from the USCIS or Consulate office. In fact, if the petitioner requests a DNA immigration test before receiving the official letter from the USCIS, it will NOT be accepted by U.S. Immigration.
The AABB-accredited lab arranges the scheduling of appointments in the U.S. or abroad and oversees the shipment of DNA collection kits to U.S. Embassy and Consulate locations worldwide. The official results are sent directly to the requesting immigration office, not the petitioner.
The USCIS cannot legally force a petitioner applying for immigration to take a DNA test—they can only suggest it. But a judge can order DNA testing as part of court-ordered legal proceedings in order to establish paternity or determine if an individual is entitled to certain benefits when paternity is questionable.
Whether you’re looking for a legal paternity test with validated science and affordability for immigration or other reasons, it’s crucial to select a trusted, accredited lab like DDC to perform the testing. After all, the consequences of DNA testing are far too important to leave to chance.