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RoSogolla_221g

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Everything posted by RoSogolla_221g

  1. A practical guide to surviving your 221G while stuck in Canada Hi, If you are reading this, then you are coming to Canada (or are already here) for US visa stamping and are wondering what is 221G, are already stuck because of it. I am putting some information out here that can help you with some of the FAQs or guidance on what to expect or what to do. Your situation may be different so apply as appropriate to your individual circumstances. What is 221G? There are lot of other good posts so please search on the internet, then come back here. Will I get 221G? Have you ever been stuck before? If yes, then likely. If not, then maybe. If you are in TAL areas, your chances are high. If you are in EC/EVC etc model, then chances are high as well. If you have a name that you believe can cause security concerns, then likely as well. Just because your friend got stuck or did not get stuck, does not mean you will have the same fate. Also, policies change, so there may be new additions and concerns for which you can get stuck. I was stuck before, will I get 221G again? If you were stuck before for some reason like a missing doc etc, then you may not face more issues, because those were temporary concerns, and you should be good this time. There are folks who posted they did not get 221g again. If you have TAL issues of EVC model, your situation would likely be same this time too, and you may get stuck again. For TAL I have seen many cases who will just get it every time they renew, irrespective of visa category changes. I have posted more info in this forum (see at the bottom of this post) I got 221g, how long will I be here. Try to identify if you are in 221G due to TAL or something else. See posts on this forum (see at the bottom of this post). Look for more recent posts, put your info and estimate using the posts on this forum (see links at the bottom of this post). Stay is expensive, which hotel or any other alternatives? Use AirBnB or similar ways. If possible, find other folks stuck in the same area as you and share accommodation. Unless you need to, stay in areas slightly farther from the downtown etc. Pros are that stay is cheaper. Cons are that most residential areas have limited food options. If you must travel regularly for any reason, account for your transportation costs too. If you have friends elsewhere, check if you can still change your pickup location (at the time of writing this post, the online system allowed you to change it even though your interview was already done. I know of people who successfully changed it). You may be able to avoid coming back to the city where your interview happened. If moving far away, there may be a day’s delay in passport transit. Private rooms are more expensive, but if you are 2-3 people together, you may get a place just for yourself. What to do for Internet? Make sure you have good Wi-Fi at your accommodation. check with the host. High speed means different things to different people, but there is not a lot you can do once you are there. Definitely ask the host if in doubt. There are lot of Starbucks locations, they have free Wi-Fi. Tim Hortons is the same way. Some malls have free Wi-Fi too (like CP in Vancouver). Use your 3G/4G if you have unlimited data or want to pay for roaming. T-Mobile folks usually have good plans with data roaming and the connections are good, heard good connection as well in Vancouver at least. With AT&T, people said that the Data was an issue as it was not free or limited. Connectivity was good. What about entertainment? I am bored and no one is here with 221G. If you cannot find other folks, then quite likely they have not responded yet. The forums take 24-hrs at times to update. Post and preferably message people directly on this forum. Reply ASAP if you do get messages, it is a two way street. There are movie theatres, though it can be about CAD14 per ticket. Find local attractions. Rent a car, go to Banff if nearby or if you can drive long. Go to whistler if near Vancouver. Netflix works, Hulu does not. Amazon has issues. YouTube works, but some videos will not play outside US. Get your movie collection with you. What about phone calls? And recommendations for connecting with others in my situation. Setup a WhatsApp group, email group, FB group or whatever works for you. Use Skype, WhatsApp to call. Texting works well usually. Check with your US carrier if they have a North America calling plan. Usually USD10-15/month and you can take for just a month. Should I rent a car of use public transport? Car rental is useful if you want to explore areas while on your forced vacation. Factor in parking costs. If parking is free, good for you. Check with your insurance policy. Most will cover you in Canada. Public transport is good in many cities. Make sure you know the timings, be safe. Make sure you are transiting through safe zones (ask your host or other locals). I did not bring much cash? Local places may take USD, but give you exchange rate as they desire. You can use ATMs to withdraw money, they will charge convenience fees and conversion rate. You may want to take a larger amount at one time. If you have credit card, preferably use that. Check transaction fees. Some cards like Capital One etc have no transaction fees, and give good conversion rates too. Even if you have 2-3% transaction fees, you might be better off than withdrawing small amounts of cash. When paying with card, select the option for CAD and not USD on the machines that ask for such option. Reason is that the vendor decides the exchange rate, and usually slaps a 4% fees on top of it. Some places only take cash, so avoid them or carry cash. These include small restaurants. If you are comfortable, then check with anyone who got stuck but is now going home. If you have cash, you can pay them via bank transfer in US and take CAD cash. Not the best recommendation, but if It works for you, then what can I say. What about food? Depends on your preference. There are many Indian/Asian/Mediterranean/Italian options. Starbucks is on pretty much every corner. There is even Subway, Burger kind, McD, but you may get sick of it very fast. Find an accommodation that gives you kitchen access. Go to local store like IGAs and they have some ready to eat food items, like Indian pre-packaged food, noodles, good bread, cheese, milk, cereals, and fruits. You might be able to make some simple meals and breakfast. If you want to have tea at home, go for the Rose Orange Pekoe tea bags or Earl gray packs. If in doubt about a cheap food place, ask yourself – do I want to fall sick on top of being stuck here. I did not carry too many clothes? Make sure you have laundry access at your accommodation. Preferably something inside the unit. Shared ones are not free, getting change may be a pain, and moreover, people keep using it all the time over weekend. Buy some cheap T-Shirts, usually 4 for CAD20 etc. If money isn’t a concern, go spend time in Malls and there are some really nice brands. Helps pass time and who isn’t happy with some good shopping. Weather related? (Check weather before you travel, or when you are stuck) If you are reading this before your travel, then plan according to weather. Depending on your location, plan to carry a umbrella. It is cheaper to carry a small one than buy here. If you feel cold, remember you are coming up North. Get a good parka/jacket if you feel cold even in Fall or Spring. It will get colder at night. Can I travel to my home country while my visa is being processed and come back to pick it up? Typically you can, provided you have a multi-entry Canadian visa or other docs that allow you to get back here. If you have your passport, no issues. If not, you can request it back from the consulate. This may add 2-3 more days because now you have to ship it back, and they will need to email you, and then put it back in their system. You can check with the consulate on how long you have to send it back. The answer that I have heard from few people is that they want it ASAP, but did not give a definitive response. IMO, if it is a few weeks here and there you should be fine, but best is to check with the consulate. If you are comfortable spending money, then as soon as you get the email and hop on the next flight to come to Canada, and ship it to the consulate, you should be alright. Plan on staying for up to a week to get it back though (depends on weekends/holidays etc). If you are thinking of going back to US on a different visa, then I cannot really comment on that part. Check with your attorney. Ideally you can go back to US without a valid visa if your trip was less than 30 days to Canada or Mexico. However, that is only if you did not apply for a visa while in Canada or Mexico. I am not an attorney so please check with an immigration attorney. They key is to identify your case of 221g and estimate how long it will take. Then go soon to come back soon as well. If you are flying via Europe or UK, you should be fine as well, because you have a valid Canadian visa. So no transit visa will be required (please check in case regulations have changed). You will not be able to fly via USA, because they require a transit visa and you will need to apply for that as well (do you really want to fill out another DS160, pay the fees, and possibly get a 221g for that as well?) We are all strangers on this group, any safety concerns? I was at Vancouver, so cannot comment on other locations. Other folks, please chime in. You may just want to avoid certain areas in the east of downtown. Local transport has usually been fairly good. Cabs aren’t too expensive either. The city is largely walkable. You are a grown up, use common sense. Not everyone you will meet is bad and not everyone is your friend. Use good judgment. I personally met some really nice people, very helpful, and made friends. I recommend reaching out to people, form a group. Yes you will meet upbeat optimistic people, pessimistic ones, and a whole mix. Everyone has unique issues, personal problems. I feel that you can make a difference in the group or be benefitted or both. If nothing else, cheer someone up. Biggest thing is that you will not feel alone. If nothing else, you don’t feel bad eating alone, walking by yourself on the streets and in the mall, can order a pitcher (can’t do with one person), or just go to nearby places and they can take your pics.
  2. RoSogolla_221g

    Calling all 221g - Only Vancouver Consulate

    Do you know if yours in TAL case? With the holidays, things usually slow down a little. I would estimate that you should be getting it this week or early next week, if you have not already gotten it. Can you provide more info on your interview, questions asked. Do you have a PhD or Master, Biotech area?
  3. RoSogolla_221g

    Calling all 221g - Only Vancouver Consulate

    Did you get it? It should not have taken so long. If you have, please update it so that other users can be helped with this data.
  4. RoSogolla_221g

    Am I eligible for 'Dropbox' facility

    Shekar11 is correct. Following information Is from official website, and you are not in the same class. Did you ever have an F1 before that meets the second criteria? If I am applying for an H or L (individual) or R visa, my prior visa in the same class is still valid or expired within the last 12 months. OR If I am applying for any other class of visa, my prior visa in the same class is still valid or expired within the last 48 months.
  5. RoSogolla_221g

    H1B Drop box Eligibility

    Here is the information from the official website. Assuming you have H1 since you posted in the H1B forum, the answer would be No. This is because yours expired more than 12 months ago. If I am applying for an H or L (individual) or R visa, my prior visa in the same class is still valid or expired within the last 12 months. OR If I am applying for any other class of visa, my prior visa in the same class is still valid or expired within the last 48 months.
  6. I did not have an experience with H1B but had an experience with F1 sometime ago. The immigration office told me that your visa will expire soon and just wanted me to be aware. I told yes I am aware and will get it renewed soon. As far as your I797 is valid for longer, you should not have any issues. You can email your attorney to just be sure.
  7. RoSogolla_221g

    Calling all 221g - Only Vancouver Consulate

    They are not open. I had checked (and so did a few others).
  8. RoSogolla_221g

    Calling all 221g - Only Vancouver Consulate

    Rohini , MPate, can you also update your experiences here.
  9. RoSogolla_221g

    Calling all 221g in Ottawa

    Any other folks with success stories, care to share.
  10. RoSogolla_221g

    Calling all 221g - Only Vancouver Consulate

    Great, Congrats!!! The ordeal officially ends.
  11. RoSogolla_221g

    CEAC Status Shows Issued after PIMS verification @Ottawa

    Just some thoughts for folks hitting or worried about PIMS issues. 1. This is not as common now as it used to be and usually gets resolved faster than other cases. Still frustrating. 2. This is something you can possibly do (may or may not help) - Background: Most states now give Driving License only for validity of your petition (some exceptions). They use the SAVE system. As per my research, the PIMS system feeds into the SAVE system as well. I have friends who could not renew their DL because the Driving License office could not verify SAVE and put a request. Took few weeks and then everything else was good. Pretty much the SAVE system is their way of validating that your status is valid, and the timeframe your I797 shows is the same that the USCIS approved. Action: Renew your license before going for your appointment if possible. Leave sufficient time to get your new DL back so that you can use it as ID in Canada (or elsewhere) to pick up passport. At least this cuts down the time you have to wait for PIMS in a different country. I do not know if this will work for everyone, but makes sense if you read the PIMS system information online and how it feeds into other verification systems.
  12. RoSogolla_221g

    Calling all 221g - Only Vancouver Consulate

    So you would not have needed to travel to send the passport back. Just for reference, you can ship it back from any of the approved Post office locations (and not just the one you picked up initially). The return shipping is covered in your fees. Alternatively, you can also use your own shipping method, but then you pay on your own. For getting passport back, you can change the pickup location (see other post on that). And yes, it will keep saying Admin processing (don't confuse it with 221G admin processing). This state will remain till it changes to Issued (so 2-3 days).
  13. RoSogolla_221g

    Calling all 221g - Only Vancouver Consulate

    Final Notes: Interview date Oct 3rd @ Vancouver Consulate. Employment related Questions: Who do you work for, what do you do, a couple more about the company. Lasted about 15 sec. Education background, PhD area, described research (even though not related to primary job). Asked for CV, gave resume. Asked publications are not listed. Provided him with printed copies of publications (not dissertation just the papers). Knew 221G is coming again and was given a printed sheet with221G information. No other docs required. Told will take 2-3 weeks. (Color of sheet was white, but I have posted elsewhere, that I do not believe color matters, particularly when they just print it out, it will usually be white. See my other posts on this). Kept passport and I797. I asked if they will be kept for now. I was then offered to take them back. Asked if that makes a difference. VO said that it can cause up to 1-week delay as they will have to request it back. So I decided to leave it with them. First status changed on Oct 21st. Date changed, but status was Admin Processing (must have changed to ready at some point of time, but that is temporary). Waited for 3 weeks, 14 working days (Oct 10th was a holiday). Waited for the weekend, on Oct 24th status changed to Issued around 11AM. (Had emailed the consulate to see if they have any update, and they responded that it is issued, right around the time when my status changed). Pick Up Experience Oct 24th: Emailed back to ask if it is possible to pick passport from Consulate. Around 2 PM, got response that except for emergency, they will not allow. Around 2:15ish, got email with tracking information. Around 3 PM got email from CPC with tracking information. Around 4 PM, tracking started working, even though they say it may take some time. Showed that package picked up at Richmond. FYI – nothing to worry – I saw that the package was showing en-route to Ontaria (Widby, ON). Went to the post office to ask and they did not give any clear response, just said that check for pick up email. Told me that if package is processed tonight at Richmond, it will come tomorrow, else one more day. They told me that packages usually come by 11AM, but wait for email. So checked after 8 PM and package was processed at Richmond. Oct 25th: Was hoping that the package is indeed coming locally. Saw the update at around 9:20 that package arrived and is ready for pickup. Left for Post office immediately. Got the pick up email on my way. At the post office, they just need your ID and then tracking number. They will ask for pickup email, but were happy to just use the tracking number from previous email on phone or tracking printout. Just for info, make sure the address in the CPC email is correct pick up address. As long as that is correct, you are fine. Once you try to track the package, it will who that it is en-route to Ontario. Post office folks confirmed later that it is a known issue and the package comes to the correct location. Package had passport and I797. For TAL cases, there is a clearance received line on your passport (as some already know). The date was Oct 19th. Passport is valid for 2 years from the date passport was issued (as is expected because clearance is valid for 2 years).
  14. RoSogolla_221g

    CEAC Status Shows Issued after PIMS verification @Ottawa

    Also,Kumar, others have asked this as well. How do you know it was PIMS. Can you please share for others benefit? Did they put "NO PIMS" at the back sticker on your passport or the VO tell you that? It would be good for folks to know how to definitely determine PIMS or not.
  15. RoSogolla_221g

    CEAC Status Shows Issued after PIMS verification @Ottawa

    You should have received an email yesterday, likely after you posted the above, saying your passport has already been shipped. I am doubtful you will respond anytime soon as you might already be traveling with your passport :). In general folks, here is how it typically goes: Your status changes to Issued sometime in the mid morning. So between 7ish to Noon you see the status updated to Issued. Sam day around 2PM-5PM you get multiple emails, from Embassy and CPC with tracking info, package picked up etc. You can start tracking it by late evening. Next day you will usually get your passport. If in a hurry, you can go after 12PM (ideally after 2 PM) and check if they received your passport. They will take your ID and check if they have it with them, else will use your tracking number and say in transit.
  16. RoSogolla_221g

    Do i need to go fro H1 stamping

    You should be fine as long as you have the new I797 (which you say you do). Carry your paystub, EVL etc with you, in case you are asked while coming back. I think you can use drop box with employer change, but contact the consulate or your attorney anyway. Go to the official link to Indian Consulates. here is the eligibility information as of today from ustraveldocs website. INTERVIEW WAIVER PROGRAM "DROP-BOX" CHECKLIST If you can answer “yes” to all of the following questions, you qualify for our Interview Waiver Program “Drop-box”. You do not need to schedule an appointment at a Visa Application Center. Please log in, create your profile, proceed with your application, and print two copies of the submission letter. Drop off your passport along with the listed documents mentioned on the submission letter at one of our 11 service centers. Eligibility Criteria for all applicants except child below 14 years of age and applicant above 80 years of age or older: I have a previous U.S. visa in the same class as the visa for which I wish to apply My most recent visa was issued in India I received my visa after January 1, 2008 My prior visa is not annotated “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”. My most recent visa (in the same class for which I am applying) was issued on or after my 14th birthday I have no refusals for a visa in any class after my most recent visa issuance If I am applying for an H or L (individual) or R visa, my prior visa in the same class is still valid or expired within the last 12 months.
  17. RoSogolla_221g

    Going for stamping after 8 years

    No it would not. You are not alone, there are many who have not had any issues. I have message you as well. I do suggest that you prepare for an answer though. Look at some other posts I have responded to for similar situation. If you were on F1, you would have had more burden to show non-immigrant intent and ties. With I-140 approved, and H1B having dual intent, you have pretty much crossed that bridge. There is a slim chance the VO may ask, so instead of coming up blank, just be ready with any truthful answer, that's all.
  18. RoSogolla_221g

    Calling all 221g - Only Vancouver Consulate

    Can you tell us if they kept your passport or returned it? Also, noticed that you did email the docs back the same day, so I do not think there should be much delay due to that (if at all a day's impact). I hope it is sooner, but give it about 14 working days including your date of interview.
  19. RoSogolla_221g

    Calling all 221g - Only Vancouver Consulate

    Date changed to Issued today Oct 24th. So considering Oct 10th holiday, it was 14 working days (including interview date) to get the first update. I am next going to update with a final post on the full timeline and experience to consolidate it.
  20. RoSogolla_221g

    Calling all 221g - Only Vancouver Consulate

    I see date changed to Oct 21, but still says Admin processing. Hoping to see a status change today or tomorrow now. Will post if I see any change.
  21. RoSogolla_221g

    Calling all 221g - Only Vancouver Consulate

    hi VanWanderer, you are definitely in TAL. There is one more person from Oct 12th in TAL here. Yours is Oct 14th (going by interview date). Estimate is that you should see an update around Nov 1 or 2 (+ number of days you took to send the docs to the consulate). There is a WhatsApp group on which we are sharing the info. Message RohiniK to get added to it.
  22. RoSogolla_221g

    Calling all 221g in Ottawa

    Congratulations!!! Can you post the timeline from now till when you received to give a better idea on postal timeframe.
  23. RoSogolla_221g

    H1B Extension Stamping - Vancouver

    Did you get yours?
  24. RoSogolla_221g

    DS-160 Question

    The answer is Yes. No need to put the petition number, just put yes and by your <employer name>. That should suffice. If yes, carry a copy of your approved I-140 with you.
  25. RoSogolla_221g

    H1B Visa stamping in otttawa

    This is not true, please do not help spread such baseless rumors.
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