Families are complicated. That can be particularly true if they’re spread out over multiple countries or even continents. Unfortunately, our immigration laws don’t always make things easy for non-traditional family relationships.
For example, if you’re a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, you have a right to bring a child (minor or adult) into the country on a visa. But what if there’s no official documentation stating that you’re their parent?
This, of course, is most likely to happen to men. Maybe you weren’t married to the mother, so you weren’t included on the child’s birth certificate. Maybe the mother believed at the time or publicly asserted that someone else was the father, but you later learned the truth. What if, for one of these reasons or any number of others, you’ve never had a close relationship with your child?
Can you still bring your child into the U.S. on a family-based visa?
You can. However, you may need to rely on DNA testing to do so. You can request the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to permit both you and your child to take a DNA test to prove your relationship.
While this is a quick and simple procedure that just involves getting the inside of your cheek swabbed, processing takes some time. Further, both tests need to be done at approved locations, and they aren’t inexpensive to do. Before you take that step, determine what documentation or other evidence you have of your relationship (letters and photos from over the years, for example) and find out if that is sufficient.
DNA testing can be used to prove other familial relationships
What if you want to bring a sibling or parent to the U.S., but you have no documentary proof of the relationship? DNA testing can also be used in those cases.
Whatever your unique situation, one thing you can count on is that immigration rules and procedures are always complicated and often frustrating. A good first step is to get experienced legal guidance to help you navigate the process.