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Should we poll users for accurate data regarding their situation and objectives, or should we shy away from asking them about anything that might be illegal, and discourage them from disclosing anything that might be illegal?

A classic example is "I am from [usual-suspect country where 50% of UK visa applications are rejected]. Why was my UK visa refused?" Their claims of purpose seem legit, and yet, we are dubious. They are spending a year's salary, paying an agency, and using a sponsor simply so they can spend 5 days seeing The Eye and Buckingham Palace and catch a theater show.

  • Should we ask them to be candid about their goals, so we can caution them appropriately?
  • Or should we avoid probing and strongly encourage them to stick to their pretense (even though we doubt it is true)?

If the latter, how do we give them accurate advice?

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  • Should we ask them to be candid about their goals, so we can caution them appropriately?
  • Or should we avoid probing and strongly encourage them to stick to their pretense (even though we doubt it is true)?

Neither! you simply should answer the question that is asked, you should not try to be pedantic and "interrogate" the asker nor encourage him to lie. Just answer if you know the answer, ask in the comments if you have something that needs to be cleared.

Other option would be simply downvoting the question and moving on if you think the question is full of that stuff.

Remember, knowing the truth is the embassy's job, which I think they are doing pretty well otherwise such questions wouldn't be here in the first place.

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    Exactly. If it's blatantly illegal, we can't help out, but we shouldn't make assumptions or try to weed it out of them. People get paid at embassies to do that. – Mark Mayo Supports Monica May 28 '18 at 4:32
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    So I'm hearing "embrace the GIGO". If they want to mislead us, then they get a misleading answer. – Harper May 30 '18 at 16:54
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    Pretty much. You can always explain it the way an official looking at their application will see it: "you're proposing to spend a year's salary on a four-day vacation, which looks suspicious because blah blah." That's true and doesn't require interrogating them on their true motives. I do think there are some questions where giving responsible advice means guessing at the OP's background/motives and providing an appropriate warning even if that's not what they asked for (e.g. if they seem to be the victim of a scam), but that doesn't apply to every questionable visa application. – Zach Lipton May 31 '18 at 8:02
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Should we poll users for accurate data regarding their situation and objectives?

If it's needed to clarify the question being asked, sure, but we shouldn't interrogate them or assume the worst.

Should we shy away from asking them about anything that might be illegal?

I wouldn't recommend either shying away from asking questions of the OP specifically because of something being illegal or going out of our way to question them. If it's needed to clarify the question being asked, ask, but don't go back and forth interrogating the user in comments. Like Nean Der Thal said, that's the embassy and immigration officer's job.

[Should we] discourage them from disclosing anything that might be illegal?

No, we should not discourage them from disclosing the truth, regardless of whether or not it's legal. On the contrary, we should encourage them to be truthful (both to us and to immigration/embassy officers.) We just shouldn't go out of our way to interrogate them.

Should we ask them to be candid about their goals, so we can caution them appropriately?

If their goals aren't stated, asking what they are in order to clarify the question seems fine, but I wouldn't recommend arguing with them about their goals in comments.

Or should we avoid probing and strongly encourage them to stick to their pretense (even though we doubt it is true)?

I would definitely not recommend encouraging them to stick to a pretense. Lying to officials is rarely an advisable course of action and lying here isn't going to get them accurate answers. If they do lie to us, that's their problem when they get answers that aren't correct, but I would certainly not recommend encouraging them to lie to us.

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For the example you give, spending all their income and savings on a short tourist visit, I honestly don't think it matters.

Regardless of whether the scenario is true or just a ruse to immigrate illegally, the answer is the same: they won't get a visa because no immigration officer will believe them. We already have a reference question about the reasons for refusal that come up in these cases so dealing with these questions doesn't need to take up any of our time.

We don't need to do anything.

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