This Month’s Hot Topics – Notarially speaking!

The vexed question of a Notary’s duty in dealing with Parental Consents to travel has been causing more head-scratching.

As my earlier blogs have pointed out, it is always wise and sometimes essential, if a child is to travel abroad without both parents, for the non-travelling parent to issue a Notarised form of consent.

This will enable Border Guards and Airlines to tick their “compliance” box so that they can be as sure as possible that they are not unwittingly assisting a child kidnap scenario.

Some Notaries are worried by the question of whether in witnessing such a consent they are warranting to the world that the consenting parent is authorised to be in charge of the child’s travelling arrangements.

Imagine a mother attending a Notary to give consent for her child to travel with its grandmother to join the child’s father in Spain for a surprise on his birthday. She explains that father cannot attend to give his consent because he is in Spain.

If the Notary refuses, he maybe spoils the lovely birthday party for the family.

But if the Notary goes ahead, what will he say to the father, when Grandmother has in fact taken the child to Colombia where Mother has joined them and they are never coming home?

And the position is further complicated by the fact that not every parent, has parental rights. Maybe a Court has taken control.

How is a Notary to know whether two parents [even though they both attend with passports, marriage certificate, child’s birth certificate etc.] have the right to consent to their child travelling? Say, travelling with an Uncle to Pakistan – when perhaps the child has actually last week been committed by the Court into the care of a Social worker or Foster-Parent from whom the parents are trying to kidnap the child?

Millions of innocent journeys abroad must be made every year by children travelling with only one parent or with adults who are not their parents. On the other hand, I understand that some 1200 or more allegations of child kidnapping are reported to the UK police every month.

Is nothing simple, I sometimes wonder? No, nothing is, is the only answer. Every case is different and getting it right in the end usually depends upon the Notary’s knowledge and experience, with a significant dash of gut instinct in the mix as well.

New UK Naturalisation/Settlement Rules

New rules for Naturalisation or Settlement in UK after October 2013

The detailed information below has been prepared and published on their blog by Simpson Millar, Solicitors in Leeds. [visit them on ]

I might mention that Louise and I have both experimented with the Life In The UK Test on the website but I am not telling you how we did – why not try it yourself!

If you apply for either a settlement or a naturalisation application after 28 October 2013, you’ll need to show both of the following:

* You have passed the Life in the UK Test
* You have a speaking and listening qualification in English at level B1 CEFR or higher, or an equivalent level qualification

What is the Life in the UK Test?

This is a computer-based, multiple-choice test taken by people applying for settlement. You can find more information about the test and how to book online at

English language qualifications from October 2013

From 28 October, UK immigration authorities will accept a range of English language qualifications showing that an applicant meets a B1 level speaking and listening qualification.

Adults applying for settlement, either as main applicant or a dependant, will need to meet the English language qualification

Currently the following are accepted:

* Speaking and listening at B1 or above from the secure English language test (SELT)
* English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) at entry level 3, level 1 or level 2, including speaking and listening, and regulated by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations (OfQAL)
* ESOL at Scottish Qualifications Framework (ScQF) levels 4, 5 or 6 awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (taken in Scotland)

Please note that the English language qualification will not need to be provided by nationals of a majority English speaking country or individuals with a degree taught in English.

In this instance, English-speaking countries are: Antigua, Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Granada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts, Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, The Grenadines, Trinidad, Tobago and the USA.

Adults applying for settlement, either as main applicant or a dependant (including adult children of individuals who are settled) will need to meet the English language qualification.

The following groups are exempt:

* Children under 18 and individuals of 65 and over
* People with physical or mental conditions that severely restrict their ability to learn English and/or communicate, or take the Life in the UK Test
* People entering under the adult dependent relatives route, and the former route for retired persons of independent means
* Applicants seeking settled status because of domestic violence or the death of a spouse
* Refugees and people needing humanitarian protection
* People with discretionary leave to remain

While not necessarily exempt, some categories will be allowed by the Home Office to apply for further periods of limited leave, as follows:

* Partners, children and parents applying under appendix FM or subject to transitional arrangements under Part 8 of the Immigration Rules
* People here because of long residencies (under 10 or 20 years)
* People here with dependants serving as HM Forces personnel
* Dependants of overseas nationals who originally entered the UK as points-placed migrants or work-permit holders

Individuals in certain immigration categories who have lived in the UK for 15 years may also, with appropriate evidence, be able to apply for exemptions from the English language requirement.

Please note that any currently-exempt categories may be reviewed and changed in the future.

The Home Office has also warned that the English language conditions might change. It’s therefore important that everyone likely to be affected is kept updated of any changes in immigration laws.

Naturalisation as a British citizen

Anyone applying to naturalise as British after 28 October 2013 will now have to satisfy the new Knowledge of Life and Language requirement. Exceptions are people over 65, or anyone for whom a physical or mental condition severely inhibits communication or taking the Life in the UK Test.

If you applied for settlement or indefinite leave to remain before 28 October 2013, you’ll need to take further tests to meet the requirements to naturalise as a British citizen after that date. However, if you have already passed the Life in the UK Test, you will not need to re-sit.

To ensure your English language and life in the UK qualifications are correct when you apply for settlement or naturalisation, please contact us at Simpson Millar. We’ll be happy to discuss the requirements with you in more detail.

The Home Office will continue to accept past certificates for Life in the UK Tests taken before 25 March 2013.