The White House on Thursday admitted that President Obama had lived with his uncle Onyango “Omar” Obama in the mid-1980s, after previously denying that the two had ever met.

The controversy arose after Omar Obama testified during a deportation hearing in Boston this week that the president had lived with him while he was a student at Harvard Law School.

The White House had previously told the Boston Globe that Obama never met his uncle, who is related to him from his father’s side.

On Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that when they had first been asked about Obama's relationship with his uncle in 2011, they consulted the president's memoir Dreams from My Father and found no mention of him.

“There was no evidence they had met and that was what was conveyed,” said Carney. He added that at the time “no one spoke to the president” and asked him about the matter.

Carney added that it was his idea to ask the president after reports about Omar Obama’s comments during his immigration hearing surfaced.

“I thought it was the right thing to do to ask him,” he said, adding “nobody had asked him in the past.”

Carney said the president, while a Harvard law student, stayed with his uncle for “brief period of time” and then moved into his own residence. He added that they subsequently saw each other “once every few months” but “after law school they gradually fell out of touch.”

“The president has not seen Onyango Obama in 20 years and has not spoken with him in roughly 10 years,” Carney added.

Obama’s uncle was granted legal residency by a judge on Tuesday.

The White House says they did not interfere in any way with the proceeding.