Surrogacy, ART and DNA Testing
The Indian government now requires medical visas for individuals coming to India for the purpose of surrogacy. We advise those considering surrogacy to check the latest requirements with Travisa or the Indian Embassy or Consulate nearest you for the most current information on who is eligible for a medical visa as well as the consequences of traveling to India without the proper visa. Please be aware that a letter of support from the Embassy is required as part of the application for the Indian medical visa for surrogacy purposes. You can access this letter from the “Additional Links” box on this page.
Determining U.S. Citizenship
Many, but not all, children born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent are eligible to be documented as U.S. citizens. For a child born through surrogacy to acquire U.S. citizenship and obtain a U.S. passport, sufficient proof must be submitted showing:
1) A genetic relationship between the newborn child and a U.S. citizen parent. This is most effectively accomplished through DNA testing, and DNA testing is now strongly recommended in all cases involving surrogacy. (Note: The genetically related parent must be a U.S. citizen at the time of the baby’s birth to be eligible to transmit citizenship.)
2) The U.S. citizen parent(s)’ physical presence in the U.S. according to the requirements of U.S. immigration law. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may have to prove up to five years of physical presence in the United States in order for your child to acquire U.S. citizenship. The rules regarding physical presence are very specific, and you should review them carefully.
Often, individuals underestimate the time required for determining their newborns’ eligibility for U.S. citizenship, obtaining their passports and Indian exit permissions and the potential for complication throughout the process. Straightforward cases can take at least two to three weeks, while unusual or difficult cases can take months. There are several factors that can influence this timeline, including the availability of appointments, waiting for DNA test results, completing the Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen (CRBA) and passport applications as well as going through the Indian exit visa process. While your case will be processed as quickly as possible, it is important to keep in mind that this process is unpredictable by nature and that you should expect the unexpected.
If you are considering traveling to India for surrogacy or any other Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedures, please contact the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. Consulate well in advance to learn about any unique requirements or delays that may arise. A standard case will follow the steps below.
Step 1: Make Contact with the U.S. Embassy and Arrange for DNA Kit Shipment
It is important to make contact with the U.S. Embassy as early in the process as possible (email@example.com) so we can help guide you through the steps involved. If possible, please provide some basic information about your specific situation (i.e. U.S. citizen’s genetic relationship to the child, use of egg/sperm donor, clinic being used, baby’s due date, etc.). Please be assured we will treat any information you provide with discretion and sensitivity.
We also highly recommend that all travelers register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). It’s a quick and simple process, and you can access it through the following website: https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui. By registering and giving us their email address, people can automatically receive any security or other notices that we send out to Americans in India. By providing their itinerary and contact information, it makes it easier for us to locate them in the event of an emergency. Also, if you are a Facebook user, you may also wish to “like” our page so you can get more information about American Citizen Services in India:
In addition, if you have not already done so, we also recommend that you read through the India travel information on our website (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1139.html). It contains a great deal of information about traveling in India that you may find useful.
In cases involving Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), including surrogacy, clear evidence of the child's genetic relationship to the transmitting U.S. citizen parent is required in addition to the other transmission requirements explained here. In most surrogacy/ART cases, DNA is now requested. For planning purposes, it is best to assume it will be recommended in your case as well.
We encourage parents to pre-order the DNA testing kits and have them shipped to the Embassy approximately one month prior to the baby’s due date. We will hold the kits for you here until you come in for the sample collection. Please remember to order one kit for each person to be tested. The genetic parent(s) may also choose to do DNA testing in the United States prior to traveling to India. In this case, please check with the lab regarding the process for doing this.
All costs and expenses associated with DNA testing must be borne entirely by the passport applicant and his/her family.
We are often asked to provide information about specific doctors, clinics or labs. However, we cannot endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and each U.S. Consulate in India maintains a list of local doctors and hospitals, all of which are published on their respective websites under "U.S. Citizen Services." To learn more about Surrogacy, ART and DNA Testing, please click here.
Please note that you must use a lab accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). Please see our “Additional Links” box for a link to the list of AABB-Accredited DNA Testing Labs.
Please ensure that the DNA laboratory you choose:
- Can process buccal swabs
- Is willing to process the testing for the relationship under question (not all tests are for paternity)
- Is willing to handle international shipments including providing the necessary customs clearance forms
- Will forward the buccal swab test kit to the Embassy with a pre-paid return envelope
We cannot make specific recommendations about which DNA lab you should use. You can contact the different labs and pick the one that seems to best suit your needs. Depending on which lab you select, it can take up to two weeks after the testing to receive the results. If you would like to have the DNA results as soon as possible, some labs do offer expedited services for an additional fee.
Please have the DNA kits mailed to the U.S. Embassy at the following address:
Consular Section FPU
New Delhi, 110021, India
Please DO NOT use a third party to select your U.S.-based lab, arrange appointments, or transport specimens. In addition, at no time should the lab send you a testing kit directly. If this happens, please inform us immediately.
DNA kits take approximately one week to arrive at the Embassy, but please note that all incoming mail to the Embassy is subjected to a screening process before it is delivered to the appropriate section. Once your DNA kits have arrived in our office, we will hold them until your DNA appointment has been scheduled.
Step 2: Coming to the Embassy
Once the baby has been released from the hospital and you have the birth certificate and all the other documentation (i.e. complete surrogacy contract, medical records related to the pregnancy/birth, evidence of physical presence in the United States, etc.), please notify us via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule your appointment.
There are two parts to the Embassy appointment – American Citizen Services (ACS) and DNA collection. During the ACS interview, you will submit the applications for the baby’s passport, Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) and Social Security card. Once this stage of the process has been completed, DNA collection will take place.
Depending on our schedule and your preference, these two things may or may not be on the same day. Please remember that the child must be physically present for both the ACS and DNA appointments, and the ACS appointment should be completed before DNA collection takes place.
Please be aware that DNA collection takes place on Tuesdays only. Once you notify us that you are ready for this stage of the process and have all necessary documentation, our DNA staff will send you an e-mail confirming the date and time of the ACS appointment and DNA collection. If, for any reason, you wish to come to the Embassy for the ACS appointment on another day, please make your own online appointment through our website. In this case, please note that the DNA collection will take place only after you have completed the ACS appointment.
On the day of the appointment, you will come to Gate 6 (also known as the Visa Gate) of the U.S. Embassy. If you plan to bring someone with you to help with the baby, please be sure s/he has photo identification to show the guards. Also, please be aware that, for security reasons, there are a number of things that you cannot bring with you inside the Embassy. For a list of restricted items, click here. If a visitor brings prohibited items, they must be disposed of prior to entry.
Applicants should arrive at the Consular Section at least 15 minutes prior to their appointment. Please note that phones, cameras and other electronic items are not allowed inside the Embassy.
There are several documents required for your Embassy appearance. For the ACS part of your appointment, please bring the following:
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen (DS-2029 PDF 100 KB)
When filling out the applications for the passport and CRBA, please provide the information of the genetically related parent, and, if named on the Indian birth certificate, the second parent. Please be sure to bring whatever you believe is necessary to demonstrate that you have met the requirements to transmit U.S. citizenship. If only one parent is genetically-related to the child, physical presence requirements will be based on sections of the law for out-of-wedlock births. For more general information about applying for a CRBA, please click here.
The CRBA and passports take approximately two weeks to arrive at the Embassy once approved. We have courier services available to deliver these documents to your door in India. If you wish the CRBA or any other documents to be mailed to you outside of India, please provide a pre-paid envelope at the time of your ACS interview.
We will submit your request to the Social Security Service, which will send your child’s Social Security card to your mailing address within about three months. There is no charge for this service.
- Affidavit of Parentage, Physical Presence and Support (DS-5507 PDF 136 KB)
We will also need to see the surrogacy contract as well as any relevant medical records. Please be aware that ART and surrogacy situations are complex and frequently require additional documentation. We encourage you to carefully review all of the information provided in this e-mail, including the links, to ensure you are aware of all the required documents. Please keep in mind that the more documentation you can provide, the easier it will be for the consular officer to approve your applications. The process will be much easier if you come to the interview well-organized and fully prepared.
For the DNA collection part of the appointment, applicants must have the following:
- Original birth certificate and a photocopy of the same for the child. Applicants using surrogacy services should present local birth certificates listing the names of the commissioning parents as the child’s parents. If there is any discrepancy between the birth certificate and the names of the commissioning parents as listed in the surrogacy contract, a local lawyer’s affidavit stating the legal parentage of the child may be required. If you have any questions regarding your specific situation, please contact us prior to your appointment.
- Original passports of the accompanying US citizen parent(s) of the child. No other form of ID for the U.S. citizen parent is accepted.
- Two photographs of each person to be tested – i.e. the child and accompanying US citizen parent(s). If a parent has completed DNA testing in the United States, we need one photograph of the parent along with a photocopy of the passport to accompany the child’s DNA kit.
Step 3: Waiting for the DNA Results
Please note – the DNA test facility will communicate the results directly to the Embassy. We must receive the DNA results directly from the lab. We will contact you after we have received the positive DNA results.
Step 4: Obtaining the Indian Visa
After receiving your child’s US passport, you can then apply for an Indian visa or exit permit at the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in your area. Whether you plan to stay in India or travel outside of India, your child will need an Indian visa. The child cannot leave the country without this.
The Embassy will provide you with a letter of introduction to present to the FRRO. The exit visa will be placed in your child’s new passport. This process generally takes 2-3 business days. However, please note that this visa is issued by the Government of India, and the U.S. Embassy cannot provide an exact timeline for the processing of the exit visa, and we cannot expedite the process on your behalf.
Additional Notes about Surrogacy in India
To date, India has passed no specific laws governing its burgeoning Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) industry. Many medical and legal service providers voluntarily follow ART guidelines drafted by the Indian Council on Medical Research, but these are not binding. U.S. citizens considering coming to India for ART procedures, including surrogacy, are encouraged to carefully research and select service providers.
Please contact us if you have additional questions related to surrogacy, ART or DNA testing.
Telephone: 91-11-2419-8000 (ask for ACS)