DNA and Parentage Testing
A consular officer may suggest you undergo DNA testing to establish a biological relationship before he or she can perform a consular service for you or your family members. Unless the claimed relationship is established to the consulate’s satisfaction, the Embassy cannot issue a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), minor passport, or immigrant visa.
When do we suggest DNA testing? DNA testing is a useful tool for verifying an alleged biological relationship and is most commonly used to verify a parent/child relationship in conjunction with a citizenship case or an immigrant visa application. Due to the expense and logistical delays involved, DNA testing is only recommended as a last resort, when insufficient documentary proof of the relationship exists. DNA testing is always voluntary. The applicant must pay all the costs of testing and related expenses directly to the laboratory in the U.S., to the panel physician who will collect the DNA sample, and any courier fees incurred from sending testing kits and results between the laboratory and the embassy.
Outline of the Process: To initiate the process, you must choose an accredited laboratory in the United States to perform the DNA analysis (see Step 1 below). The laboratory in the U.S. will take the DNA sample of the individual living in the U.S., and will mail a DNA collection kit to the U.S. Embassy for use in collecting the DNA of the subject living in West Africa. Once the Embassy receives a collection kit in an applicant’s name and the pre-paid DHL envelope, the applicant will be contacted and given an appointment to have his/her DNA sample taken at the U.S. Embassy. At the scheduled appointment, the applicant must pay the fee for the collection directly to the physician collecting the DNA sample.
Note: if the laboratory did not provide a pre-paid DHL envelope for the Embassy to use to send the DNA sample to the laboratory, the applicant will be requested to contact the local DHL office, pay for, and obtain a pre-paid envelope.
Step 1: Applicant/Petitioner Selects a Laboratory:
The laboratory you select to perform the DNA analysis must be one which is accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). A list of such laboratories can be found at the Internet at http://www.aabb.org. The laboratory will take the required samples for the individual(s) in the United States, and will send, by courier, a collection kit and pre-paid DHL envelope to the U.S. Embassy in Bamako:
U.S. Embassy Bamako
Rue 243, Porte 297
Note: Effective immediately, all DNA samples must be taken in the form of a buccal swab (cells taken from the inside of the cheek). Blood samples will no longer be accepted.
Step 2: Embassy Receives DNA Kit and Notifies Applicant:
Once the Embassy receives a DNA kit from an accredited laboratory in the United States, we will ensure that the kit has not been opened or damaged. We will then contact the applicant who needs to provide a DNA sample, and provide him or her with an appointment to come to the Embassy for the DNA collection.
Step 3: Applicant Appears at the Embassy for the Collection Appointment:
The day of your collection appointment, you must appear at the Embassy with the following documents:
- Your passport, along with two copies of your passport (or another form of photo identification)
- Two passport photos
- A child under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who will sign the required consent form. If neither parent is present, the guardian must present a Power of Attorney from the parent residing in the United States, along with photo identification, and a photocopy of that identification.
At the time of testing, a Consular official will verify the identity of the donor by photo identification. The Consular official will make sure that the applicant signs on the back of his or her photograph for attachment to the chain of custody document (s).
All DNA samples will be taken by the medical technician at a designated location within the consular section, one applicant at a time. The Consular official will witness the entire process to ensure the integrity of the DNA sample, will store the sample in a secured location, and will ship the sample by DHL (in a pre-paid envelope) 24-48 hours after collection.
Step 4: Applicant is Notified of Test Results:
Once the analysis is done, the laboratory will send the results directly to the Embassy. Once the Embassy receives the results, we will contact the applicant in order to continue processing his or her visa/CRBA application. Please note that the Embassy will not furnish the applicant with a copy of the laboratory results; for copies of the results, please contact the laboratory directly.