In the first part of this article, we had said that legalization of documents by foreign embassies and consulates in Nigeria for use in the country they represent involves the stamping of the photocopy of the document after the officials of the embassy/consulate have seen the original document and the requisite fee have been paid.

We had also stated that verification of documents involves the checking of an applicant’s documents for the purposes of establishing the applicant’s identity, date of birth and marital status. We considered birth certificates, declarations of age and baptismal certificates as means of establishing an applicant’s date of birth and identity.

In this Part, we shall look at school documents and how they can also be used to establish an applicant’s identity and date of birth.

It must be pointed out that a major mistake made by some applicants is the false declaration by the applicant that he/she never went to school. This could be just an error made by the applicant because he/she dropped out of school and does not have the specific documents requested by the embassy/consulate or deliberate falsehood by the applicant due to the misconception that stating that he/she never went to school would make the processing of the application faster since there are no school records to be checked. For whatever reason, this false declaration not only slows down the process, but most times leads to the applicant having to pay for verification of documents twice as his/her identity and/or date of birth could not be established during the first verification.  

Aside from birth certificates (the certificates issued immediately upon the birth of a child), school records are the oldest records/documents most people possess. This is simply because people start school (pre-school) as early as two (2) years old! Once a person starts school, the school registers that person by taking the person’s name, date of birth, place of birth, etc and keeping this information in a file or in a register.

When an embassy or consulate asks for old school documents/certificates, what they are normally requesting for are Primary School Leaving Certificates/First School Leaving Certificates, Testimonials, Junior School Certificates, Senior School Certificates, Diplomas and Degrees.

With these certificates, the school’s records can be checked and the information with regards to the applicant can be verified against the applicant’s claim. These records are preferred for establishing identity and date of birth because, as stated earlier, they are usually the oldest records of an applicant and most reliable because as at the time the applicant was being registered in school there was no contemplation of a visa application.

Where an applicant does not have any of the above stated documents for whatever reason but actually went to school, the applicant should go to the school (if possible) and obtain evidence of attendance of the school which can be submitted to the embassy/consulate. This evidence could be a testimonial, statement of results or a letter issued by the Head Teacher/Principal.

Where this is not possible, the applicant should clearly state the period of attendance of the school and submit any form of proof of attendance he/she can lay hands on. It could be a receipt for fees paid, student ID card or report card. These can be used to search the school’s records.

Where an applicant cannot find any proof of attendance of the school, the applicant can still clearly state the names of the schools he/she attended and the periods of attendance in the application as this information can still be used to check the school’s records.

Where the applicant is a drop-out, he/she can still provide the names of the schools attended and periods of attendance as the school may have records for the period of attendance that can be used to establish the applicant’s name and date of birth.

So what happens when an applicant truly did not go to school and as such cannot submit any school records?

If such an applicant learned a trade or was an apprentice somewhere, the applicant should provide those details and/or certificates of apprenticeship. It has been discovered that some artisans actually keep records of their apprentices, though not all do.

Such an applicant can also submit old hospital records like Out-Patient cards as well as a letter of authority authorising the hospital to allow the embassy/consulate’s investigators inspect the applicant’s records.

When a person is sick and has to go to a hospital, the first things the hospital staff ask when registering the patient is the person’s name and age or date of birth. Hospitals normally keep these records and can provide them with the patient’s consent.

We advise anyone who is applying for a long term visa and who has been asked to submit documents for verification, to submit genuine documents and provide truthful information as this will only enhance the application.

In the next and final part of this series, we will consider documents that can be used to establish marital status.