Foreigners who have recently arrived in Finland and apply for a residence permit may, in certain cases, be required to undergo a DNA test. This procedure is usually associated with residency applications on the basis of family ties because it can determine with great certainty whether persons are biologically related to each other or not.
Normally, both the applicant and the relatives are subjected to a DNA test when the authorities have doubts about the veracity of the relationship of kinship declared.
A brochure created by the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) to inform its customers explains that “the (DNA) test is required if documents concerning your biological relationship are unavailable or cannot considered reliable, or if uncertainty remains over the biological relationship after an oral interview”.
But in all these cases the initiative must start from the immigration service itself, never from the applicant for the residence permit. “DNA test will be instigated by the Finnish Immigration Service, and neither the applicant nor a relative living in Finland may demand a DNA test”, the booklet remarks.
How the test is carried out
DNA tests are neither painful nor harmful for the health. Normally, a DNA sample may be collected by a health care professional by using a buccal cheek swab or a blood sample. The material thus obtained will be later analysed in a laboratory to determine if there is a biological relationship among two or more persons.
DNA samples provide information based on genes inherited from one generation to another. Human beings inherit half of their genes form the biological mother and the other half from the biological father. In the same way, the father and mother have inherited their genes from their parents.
All the information contained in someone’s DNA structure can be used in the family reunification cases to be compared with the DNA structure of her/his presumed relatives. And the result of this comparison will allow to determine if the people subjected to this type of tests are descendants, ascendants or siblings. Or if they are not.
Supervised by the police
Nobody is obliged to undergo a DNA test. This is a voluntary decision and written consent is required, according to the law. However, if you are applying for a residence permit on the basis of kinship and you or your presumed relatives living in Finland refuse the testing, then “you will receive a negative decision if there are no other means of sufficiently establishing family ties”, as Migri informs.
In Finland the samples might be collected at a local health centre. Local police will notify the right place and date to the persons required to undergo the test. At the place you will be required to show a document, for instance a passport or ID that establishes your identity. The police will supervise the sample collection and, if considered necessary, will also take your fingerprints.
When the person subjected to the test is abroad, the sample will be collected by a health care professional at the Finnish Embassy or in premises provided by the mission. The rest of the procedures and the requirements are the same as if the test was carried out in Finland. An officer at the Finnish Embassy or from the Finnish Immigration Service or a police officer will supervise the sample collection abroad and verify the identity.
The examination and the results
The DNA samples will be examined at the Hjelt Institute at the University of Helsinki. When this is done, an opinion based on the DNA typing will be sent to the Finnish Immigration Service. According to Migri, “the results will be received 4-8 weeks after samples have been collected from all family members”.
The Finnish authorities highlight that the data thus obtained will not be used for any purpose than establishing the family ties required for issuing a residence permit. In fact, they claim that “the samples and DNA analysis data will be destroyed after the residence permit matter has been conclude”.
Migri warns that DNA testing may sometimes reveal information on biological relationships that family members have not been aware of. If necessary, the Finnish Immigration Service will reserve an appointment for all the family members to present their views on the test results.
The cost of the process will be paid by the Finnish Government. However, if someone deliberately provides false information relating her/his family ties that becomes the basis for the testing, then s/he might be required to pay the expenses.