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Scientific advances in DNA analysis make it easier than ever to establish a relationship between family members in support of visa, immigration, and passport applications.

However, the use of DNA evidence in immigration cases has not been without controversy.  

In 2018, Home Secretary Sajid Javid was forced to apologise when it was revealed that a significant number of immigrants had been advised that DNA testing was mandatory for certain family visa applications, without any legal basis for such a requirement.

In fact, the submission of DNA evidence in support of an immigration application is entirely voluntary, with Home Office DNA policy guidance later being updated to acknowledge that the department did not have the power to make such a request.

In this blog, we look at what legal clients need to know about DNA testing for visa/immigration and passport applications, when a DNA test might be necessary for your client, and which relationship DNA tests are best for immigration matters.

Who might want a DNA test for immigration/passport applications?

An individual might decide to order an immigration DNA test if they are:

  • Applying to join family members who are already living in the UK as permanent residents or
  • Applying for a UK passport based on a familial relationship

While documents such as birth or marriage certificates will usually be enough to prove a relationship for visa and passport applications, DNA tests can prove invaluable, provided the applicant has independently decided to submit DNA evidence to support a relationship (as they cannot be asked to do so by officials).

Examples of how DNA tests can be used for immigration purposes include:

  • If a child is born abroad to UK citizens and parents are seeking citizenship for the child. In this instance, the individual may choose to have a paternity or maternity test to confirm parentage.
  • If a relative plans to move to the UK and they want to submit DNA evidence to confirm a familial relationship (where a UK citizen is sponsoring them for citizenship or a visa), they may decide to have a complex relationship DNA test performed.

    These types of tests can be used to verify a biological relationship between siblings, grandparents and their grandchildren, nieces and nephews and their uncle(s) or aunt(s) or even tell us the likelihood of two or more people being cousins.

How are DNA samples collected for immigration cases?

When performing DNA testing for immigration, a cheek (buccal) swab is rubbed on the inside of each donor’s cheek to obtain DNA for analysis.

The DNA samples of the individuals are then analysed and compared to determine whether they share enough matching DNA markers (loci).

Related individuals share more DNA than unrelated individuals: if enough matching DNA markers can be identified, this indicates that the sample donors are likely to be related (e.g. parent and child, aunt/uncle and niece/nephew, full or half-siblings, cousins etc.).

If they do not share enough DNA markers, this means that they are unlikely to be related.  

An AlphaBiolabs DNA test can analyse and compare up to 42 DNA markers for a conclusive result.

How are DNA samples collected when a family member lives abroad?

Home Office approved laboratories like AlphaBiolabs are well-versed in collecting DNA samples from individuals living abroad, to perform DNA testing for visa or passport applications.

When collecting a DNA sample from a foreign location, a sample collection kit will be sent to the required foreign location, and an appointment can be arranged via a local GP, medical practice, hospital, or another approved clinic in the applicant’s country.

The DNA samples are then collected in the UK and abroad under chain of custody conditions, with the sample donors required to provide a form of ID, including photographic identification.

Reuniting families using DNA evidence

Using the very latest scientific methods for DNA analysis, we can verify how individuals are related, strengthen immigration applications, and reunite families with their loved ones in the UK.

As a UKAS-accredited testing laboratory, AlphaBiolabs has worked with British Embassies and some of the largest specialist immigration solicitors in the UK for 18 years.

Our DNA immigration tests are recognised and admissible to UK courts, the Home Office, UK Visas and Immigration Service, Border Force, Immigration Enforcement and HM Passport Office.

We operate alongside a large international network of sample collectors, who work closely with immigration centres, consulates, and embassies worldwide to ensure a fast and efficient service, collecting samples from over 90 different countries worldwide.

We also offer free sample collection for legally instructed DNA tests at our 11 nationwide walk-in centres.

For expert advice on which DNA test is best for your client, call our Legal sales team on 0330 600 1300 or email testing@alphabiolabs.com and a member of the team will be in touch to discuss your needs.

Immigration DNA testing

Find out more about AlphaBiolabs’ DNA testing for visas and immigration.