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Schengen refusal formulae can be difficult to understand sometimes.

Sometimes an applicant receives a refusal with:

Justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not reliable.

often accompanied by:

Your intention to leave the territory of the Member States before the expiry of the visa applied for could not be ascertained.

What is meant by this refusal reason? What are they trying to say?

  • I suppose it means: they don't know why you would want to leave, after your trip. – Quora Feans Aug 22 '15 at 16:14
  • 1
    Context helps: what is applicant's nationality, where do they live and work, where were they planning to travel to, for how long, and for what purpose? Did they have adequate documentation? Why should they believe applicant intended to leave? Sounds like they believe they intended to immigrate. Does applicant have other friends or family who immigrated there? Have they overstayed a visa before? etc. – smci Aug 23 '15 at 15:07
  • Note "reliable" (this question) vs "provided" – RedGrittyBrick Mar 21 '18 at 16:13
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Visa Refusal and Reliability of Applicant

When a Schengen refusal notice contains...

The information submitted regarding justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not reliable.

...it means the decision-maker has concluded that the application contains serious problems. This is arguably the most severe refusal reason in the Schengen repertoire; many times when they use this reason it will be accompanied by the final reason...

Your intention to leave the territory of the Member States before the expiry of the visa applied for could not be ascertained.

To reduce these two reasons to blunt and direct English, it means We have concluded that you are not a genuine applicant and we do not trust you. This can arise in several ways...

Impacts Arising From History

If your sponsor has a history of sponsoring people who have breached the terms of their visa (like overstaying or working illegally) then this is taken into account against you and your sponsor's evidence may be treated as unreliable.

If you have a history of breach (like overstaying), or did not tell them about a change of circumstances, such as a significant change in your travel itinerary, then it's reasonable for them to assume that your fresh evidence is not reliable.

Credibility of Evidence

If the relationship between you and your sponsor is too distant or cannot be adequately explained, and they cannot understand why your sponsor is willing to commit themselves on your behalf, then his/her evidence will be discounted as unreliable. Make sure that your evidence demonstrates that there is a clear and strong relationship between you and your sponsor.

If you are relying upon a sponsor you met on the internet and they are providing assurances for your financial well-being, and the only evidence you can provide to prove a strong relation is a Skype log or chat room log, it will almost certainly be seen as unreliable.

If your sponsor is making attestations about your intentions, or other third parties are making similar attestations, these will usually be discounted as not reliable. There is very little evidence to show that third parties will turn someone over to the authorities if they are in breach. Moreover, many such attestations contain promises that cannot be enforced. These are considered to be unreliable evidence. Some countries provide the host with a legally binding instrument having to do with sponsorship, but these have to do with financial capacity and not with an applicant's intentions.

Lack of Evidence or Poor Evidence Quality

This is very common. If your evidence is low quality or insufficient, they may conclude that it is unreliable. Examples of this can be a single bank statement such that they cannot get a 'big picture' understanding of your circumstances.

Also common are bank statements with irregular and unexplained flows in and out of the account. See "Funds Parking" for an example (although the link points to a UK case, it is wholly applicable to Schengen).

Young applicants who are just starting out as international travellers may have problems getting the quality of evidence needed to show that they are sufficiently anchored to their family and community. When this happens the evidence they produce is sketchy and not well documented, hence unreliable. If you are young and just starting out as an independent traveller, you may not have accrued enough high quality evidence to prove that you have a durable connection to your family and community. This is especially true if you have not yet established an independent life.

Applicants who are unemployed or otherwise in reduced circumstances will have a very difficult time producing reliable evidence. These applicants will rely on their sponsor's evidence and are best advised to focus on producing high quality evidence that they occupy an established position in their community and have significant family relationships to maintain.

Falling in to this same category are documents without a date or dated too long ago to be of any use in determining the applicant's current circumstances.

Forged or Counterfeit Documents

This can happen when an applicant wants to strengthen their application or to fill an evidential shortfall. To do this the applicant will find a service that provides made to order evidence such as...

  • salary slips
  • bank statements
  • utility bills
  • travel confirmations

These often fail when a visa assistant verifies them. When this happens, the evidence (if not the entire application) will be assessed as unreliable. Remember that if you know about a way to procure counterfeit evidence, they do too.

What can I do now?

When an application fails due to "The information submitted regarding justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not reliable.", the first step is to examine each piece of evidence you submitted with a view to separating high quality evidence from low quality evidence.

If the low quality evidence consists of a single document that can easily be replaced with something more substantial, then it may be expedient to make a fresh application with the new evidence.

If there's more than one or two low quality documents, it may make sense to wait until your circumstances improve.

Can I send a letter of protest?

Yes. You can send them an explanation of why they made a wrong decision and ask them to reverse it locally. It's unlikely to help very much, but sometimes it may work. To do this, you can compose a letter to the relevant issuing post (including a translation) and send it by post or fax.

Some refused applicants may feel the need to go "straight to the top" and complain directly to the ministerial office in the host country. These complaints will be routed back to the issuing post for comment and so the results will be unchanged but further delayed by the bureaucratic overhead. Unless the issuing post has solicited a bribe, it's best to keep things at the local level. A history of specious complaints can damage your credibility.

Can I appeal?

Yes, for more information see this answer.

None of these apply to you

If you have read this article and think that none of the information applies to your case, then the best strategy is to contact a practitioner licensed in the EU to engage with Schengen applicants. They will be able to examine your evidence along with your personal circumstances and help determine what went wrong.


Related articles

Please also see Justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not provided.

Internet Resources

The controlling reference point for all Schengen applications is the Schengen Visa Code.

Criminal information is exchanged between Shengen member states using the ECRIS technology.

Some EEA residence permits are fungible within the Schengen zone, the controlling reference is in Regulation 562/2006.

The United Kingdom does not participate in the Schengen arrangement and Schengen visas are not recognized by the UK Border Force. The United Kingdom, however, does participate as an active user of the Schengen Information System.

Schengen Transit Visas are taken up in Regulation 810/2009.

  • 9
    Wow. This is a really great answer, summarizing every little bits of wisdom here and there, with more added info. I received my Schengen visa, and having done the tiring process of evidence, actually visiting the bank, travel insurance, etc, I know how helpful this answer would be myself and others. Added a bounty for this answer too. – Ayesh K Aug 27 '15 at 20:08

protected by Michael Hampton May 25 '16 at 15:55

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