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USCIS Releases New Policy Memorandum Regarding the Use of DNA Evidence to Support Sibling Relationships

Under this new policy, USCIS officers may now suggest DNA testing to petitioners and consider direct sibling-to-sibling DNA test results. Under the immigration laws, a sibling relationship requires that the petitioner and the beneficiary share at least one common parent. Primary evidence of a sibling relationship consists of birth and marriage certificates. However, if primary evidence is unavailable or insufficient, then the USCIS Officer may consider secondary evidence that substantiates the sibling relationship such as: medical records, school records, religious documents, and/or affidavits written by persons with contemporaneous knowledge of the relationship. In case primary evidence of the sibling relationship is unavailable or unreliable, then USCIS may suggest and accept DNA test results as evidence of a full or half-sibling relationship in any petition, such as an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

However, there are certain standards which the DNA evidence must meet in order to be considered. Firstly, USCIS has established that the DNA testing must be conducted by a laboratory accredited by the AABB (American Association of Blood Banks). Secondly, USCIS will only consider results of DNA testing that reflect a 90% or higher probability that a full or half-sibling relationship exists in order to serve as definitive proof. When evaluating a full or half-sibling relationship, a 9% to 89% probability of a sibling relationship is an inconclusive result and the test result by itself is not sufficient to establish the stated relationship without additional confirmation from an AABB-accredited lab. A DNA test result which is below a 9% probability of a sibling relationship is generally either inconclusive in the case of a half-sibling relationship or serves as evidence that the claimed relationship does not exist in the case of a full-sibling relationship.

However, generally USCIS will still expect that other secondary evidence or affidavits be submitted along with the DNA test results to substantiate the sibling relationship. Additionally, USCIS will continue to evaluate the sibling relationship under the preponderance of the evidence standard which requires the petitioner to demonstrate that it is more likely than not that the claimed sibling relationship exists. Note that USCIS does not have the regulatory authority to require DNA testing; however, this Policy Memorandum states that it does have the authority to suggest it to the petitioner as an alternative to primary evidence of the sibling relationship.

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