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DNA concerns

Jamaica Gleaner / Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My father went through the process of filing for my brothers and I. However, my DNA results showed that we are not related by blood. My father has not disowned me and still wants me to be near him.

What steps can be taken so that I can be able to live in America with my father? I am now 23 years old.

– MG

Dear MG,

I am so sorry that you had to learn that the man you have known and loved as your father all your life is not your biological father. This happens on occasions and is the reason an unwed father filing for a son or daughter; or a US citizen son or daughter filing for their father, presents a higher level of scrutiny before approval.

TYPES OF PROOF If a child is born out of wedlock, i.e., the mother and father were not legally married at the time of the child’s birth; and the mother and father never married before the child was 18 years old and the father is filing for his son or daughter – or the son or daughter is filing for the father – proof has to be submitted to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that a parent-child relationship existed before the child was 18 years old.

Every case is different and will produce different types of proof. Sometimes it is easy because all the parties lived together and can prove this fact, and others are more difficult because the child never lived with the father.

One of the other levels of proof that USCIS requires with out-of-wedlock children is that the parent and child voluntarily submit to a DNA test to prove the biological relationship. Such tests have to be conducted by The Department of Homeland Security-approved facilities.

When the DNA results indicate that the parent and child are not biologically related, the petition can go no further. However, if the petitioner is a parent, and the beneficiary child is under age 16 and the child and supposed parent lived together for at least two years, the parent can adopt the child and refile a petition as an adoptive parent.

In your case, your father will not be able to continue the petition. If you are able, you can seek to study in the United States and apply for a student visa; or if you are eligible, you can seek a work permit (H1-B visa) to live and work in the United States for up to three years. If your brothers are now permanent residents, under current immigration law when they become US citizens one of them can file a petition for you – if you are related through your mother. While that is a very long waiting period for a green card, at least someday you and your family can all be together.

n Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. [email protected]

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