DNA Procedures

When applying for a U.S. passport, a U.S. Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), or a U.S. immigrant visa, a consular officer or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may recommend Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing between family members when applicants have been unable to establish to the consular officer’s or USCIS official’s satisfaction that a required biological parent-child relationship exists.  DNA testing is the most accurate and widely available technology to prove a biological relationship.  DNA testing is entirely voluntary and, as such, all costs of testing and related expenses are borne by the applicant and paid to the laboratory in advance.

Please note:

  • Do NOT initiate DNA testing unless a consular officer or USCIS official has recommended that you do so.  A DNA test done independently and not according to the State Department’s procedures will not be accepted.
  • Do not pay for DNA testing for anyone other than the individuals recommended for DNA testing; individuals who have not been recommended for DNA testing will not be tested.  The U.S. Embassy is not involved in the payment process for DNA tests and therefore cannot issue refunds.

If you choose to pursue DNA testing, please follow the instructions below.

STEP 1 – CONTACT AABB-APPROVED LABORATORY: The applicant (or responsible adult for a minor child) must choose an accredited laboratory from the list on the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) website:  https://aabb.org/dna.  The AABB may be contacted by email at aabb@aabb.org or by telephone at (301) 907-6977.

The applicant pays all required fees to the selected AABB-approved laboratory and provides the chosen laboratory with up-to-date contact information (email address, phone number, and case number, if applicable) for the individuals to be tested.  The applicant must request that the DNA kits be sent to:

U.S. Embassy Accra

No. 19 Fifth Link Road


Accra, Ghana

Attention: Consular Section

STEP 2 – LABORATORY SENDS DNA KIT TO EMBASSY:  Your selected AABB-approved laboratory sends a DNA sample collection kit to the U.S. Embassy in Accra.  Note:  Any person to be tested who is physically present in the United States will be tested at a location in the United States.

STEP 3 – APPOINTMENT NOTIFICATION AND PREPARATION:  The U.S. Embassy Consular Section schedules the DNA sample collection appointment and contacts the individuals to be tested by email.  The applicant follows instructions in the email invitation and prepares documents for the DNA appointment.  Please note that, in addition to the fee charged by the AABB-approved laboratory, each person to be tested is also required to pay for the services of the Accra-based technician who will be administering the test.  The cost for collection is $25 or the GHC equivalent per applicant and must be paid in cash on the day of the appointment.  Please follow the payment instructions in the appointment email.

STEP 4 – APPOINTMENT DAY:  The applicant, and any other persons in Ghana to be tested, and individuals with Power of Attorney* for applicants under age 18, appear at the U.S. Embassy on the appointment date at least 30 minutes prior to their appointment.  All individuals being tested must present a valid ID, passport preferred.  Other acceptable IDs for adults:  Ghana or ECOWAS card, driver’s license.  Other acceptable IDs for children:  original birth certificate (biometric, green).

*Power of Attorney:  Applicants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or a guardian.  A guardian must have an original, notarized Power of Attorney form signed by the parent or legal guardian, giving the guardian authority to sign documents on behalf of the minor(s) providing samples. The guardian must also bring an ID.  For guardians, we accept as an ID only a valid passport, a government-issued driver’s license, ECOWAS card, or Ghana national ID card.

The Accra-based technician collects DNA samples (swabbing the inside of the cheek).  After the DNA is collected, the consular section will send the specimen(s) back to the laboratory in the United States for analysis.

STEP 5 – RESULTS:  The laboratory sends the results directly to the U.S. Embassy or USCIS.  Please note that the laboratories do not send results to the U.S. Embassy or to USCIS if there is a balance due on the applicant’s account.  If the results are sent to the Embassy, a consular officer will review the DNA test results and provide a status update on your case via email.  If the results are sent to USCIS, USCIS will contact you.

How long does the DNA testing process take?  The DNA testing process (from ordering the DNA kits until receipt of the DNA test results) may take 6-8 weeks to complete.** It requires the transmittal of testing kits and samples between the accredited DNA laboratory in the United States and the U.S. Embassy Accra.  For results sent to the Embassy, upon receipt of the DNA results by the Embassy, your case will be reviewed by a consular officer.  Please note that it may take up to 10 days for the kits to clear customs and security after they are marked as received by the shipping company.  The issuance of a CRBA and, or U.S. passport may take an additional 3-5 weeks for those with favorable results.  In accordance with the Department of State’s guidelines, the American Citizen Services (ACS) unit cannot give copies of DNA test results directly to applicants or other parties without the express consent of the Department of State.  Applicants should inquire with the laboratory they have selected about receiving a copy of the results directly.

**Attention:  USCIS DNA Referrals.  Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, all DNA collections were suspended for many months, creating a large backlog of USCIS DNA cases awaiting sample collection.  As we resume DNA collections, we are following strict safety protocols, which limit the number of cases we can process.  Accordingly, DNA sample collection and processing remains extremely limited.  Unfortunately, we cannot provide an estimated date when an individual’s DNA sample collection appointment will be scheduled, but we will contact each applicant as soon as his or her case is ready to be processed.  Because many months may have passed since you contacted the DNA laboratory you selected, please ensure that the DNA laboratory has your current email and cell phone contact information.  For DNA results sent to USCIS, please contact USCIS for updates about your case.

Petitioners may check the status of your petition with USCIS at https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do.  Please note petitions “administratively closed” are not denied.  These cases can be re-opened when USCIS receives DNA directly from the AABB-approved lab.  Any cases with this “administratively closed” status will remain in the USCIS DNA scheduling queue.