Successful H1B visa (renewal) stamping in Calgary, Canada


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My work model is EVC. My stamping was for H1B renewal. I have an approved I140 for several years with my current Employer. My last stamping was in India with a vendor company (different Employer than current) 5 years ago. 5 months prior to that, my H1B visa was refused under 221G (was in EVC model, then).

I received my H1B approval notice on a Friday and I was supposed to fly out to Canada on the following Monday. It was touch-n-go situation for me but I was able to stick to my plans. The reason it became so close for me was a DOB typo in my I797. I wanted to avoid any hassles, so I asked my Lawyer to request an amended notice with DOB corrected.

I stayed couple of miles away from the Consulate in an airbnb apartment. There are many choices in the downtown area. On the day of the interview, we (me and my wife) parked our rental car at Municipal parking lot (about 30 minutes prior to appointment). Since we couldn't take phone or our keys (electronic), I decided to leave everything in the car, locked it, and placed keys in the inside of the front tire. the parking is pretty secure, so I wasn't worried about that at all. Paid for parking (3 hours) using credit card. The consulate building was 4-5 minute walk from there. I asked the security guard outside for the location of the consulate office inside the building and he directed me to go thru the front door all the way towards the end of the hallway.

First security officer (next to the wall on the left) asked us if we were carrying any prohibited items. We were then directed to the right side, where another security officer checked our documents again, attached passport photo with the passport (only 1 photo was needed, although I was carrying two). We then went inside a medium size room for security screening (took off belt, jacket etc.). Security guards were pretty friendly (unlike the ones I have encountered in the past in India). We were then seated together for about 5 minutes.

We were then directed out of that room (in a line), back out in the same hallway where we came from, and then to an elevator. About 10 of us were crammed in that elevator to the floor where interviews are conducted.

Our documents were thoroughly checked at the first window, was asked few basic questions, and then, the officer put a note (No pims) on the back of my passport. I knew this would result in slight delay in my case. She put a elastic band and tied both passports together. We then went for fingerprinting at the next window (took few tries before they got it right). Then we stood and waited for the visa officer to call us. There was one male and one female officer taking the interviews. There were folks for tourist visa (all of them got it) and few for H1B visa (I think one of them was given a 221G, not sure why).

Interview questions

VO : Please hand me your passports and I797.
Me : Gave

VO : Is this a renewal or new H1B?
Me : Renewal.

VO : Do you still work with ABC (looking at my last stamping)?
Me : No sir, I work with XYZ now, changed that in XXXX.

VO : When did you work with DEF (my Employer prior to ABC)?
Me : I worked with them for X years after I graduated.

VO : Do you have previous I797s?
Me : Yes, and gave all previous I797s to him.

VO : Where did you graduate from?
Me : X University with a degree in Y.

VO : Bachelors or Masters?
Me : Masters.

VO was then trying to find the old visa stamping on my wife's passport. She had that on her old (expired) passport. I gave the old passport to him as soon as I noticed he was looking for that. He cancelled both the visa stamps (on our passports).

VO : What do you do?
Me : Job title and my company name. Shall I tell my job responsibilities? (to which he said, yes sure).

VO : Tell me your job responsibilities.
Me : blah blah..

VO : Do you do all this at your "Employer"?
Me : No sir, I provide services to an end-client (mentioned the client name and location) [I thought next question would be about the EVC model, but luckily, that didn't come up at all].

VO : Who is your end-client?
Me : DEF in city name.

VO : Do you deploy the software for your "Employer" at the end-client location?
Me : No sir, I provide services to client as "my job title" (mentioned the client name and location) [I thought next question would be about the EVC model, but luckily, that didn't come up at all].

VO : Has your Employer filed for Green card?
Me : Yes sir he has.

VO : Do you have an approved I140?
Me : Yes sir, I do (gave him the copy as original was with my Employer).

VO : Do you have the Employer letter and previous I797s?
Me : Yes Sir (handed him 2 page document).

VO : Did your Employer/Lawyer tell you how long would it take you to get the green card?
Me : They speculate, but it's hard to say as the wait is really long now (to which he said, yeah, it's bad).

VO : Has your Employer ever put you on bench, not paid you?
Me : No Sir, never. I have always been paid and on time.

<<< Kept on referring my Employer name as another very famous sounding company name. I didn't bother to correct him >>>

VO : Your visa is approved. Enjoy your stay in the US.
Me : Thank you very much Sir. You have a great day.

Observations (during the time I was waiting for the interview) and recommendations for the trip:

# A couple (both on H1B) had selected Vancouver in DS160 and then scheduled appointment at Calgary. The lady at first window was not too happy about that. She insisted that they should have flled out a new DS160. This is kind of a disputed issue. I have read in the official website that you are allowed to do that.
# Two other H1B visa holders were asked for their resume.
# Neither end-client, vendor, nor my Employer was contacted post-interview.
# Plan for at least 5 business days and once your visa is approved do not stress out if you see Administrative Processing in the CEAC website. It is a standard message.
# Check with your cell phone provider for an international travel plan. I paid 2$ per day for my usage in Canada with Verizon.
# Check with your credit card company if they charge fees every time you would swipe your card in Canada. Mine didn't.
# Do not miss Banff National Park if you are staying in Calgary. Best way is to get car rental and drive yourself.
# If possible, schedule interview earlier in the week so that you might be able to get your passport by Wed or Thur assuming your visa is approved during the interview.


10/2        - Applied for Canadian tourist visa
10/15       - Got email to submit passports.
10/16       - Submitted passports.
10/22       - Recieved my passport (visa valid thru the passport expiration date).
10/25       - Recieved wife's passport (visa valid thru the passport expiration date).

10/31       - Arrived in Canada
11/2 9 AM   - Interview
11/2 ~12 PM - Administrative processing (status on CEAC)
11/8 ~1 PM  - visa Issued
11/8 ~6 PM  - Recieved tracking number email (booked return flight as soon I got the tracking number)
11/9 ~10 AM - Recieved confirmation of delivery 
11/9 4 PM - Drove near to the Central Post Office (parked the car), and picked up the passports.
It took about 4 business days to get the passport. I think it was one additional day due to PIMS.
11/11 - Flew back to US

Port of entry (IO is Immigration Officer) questions

IO : Please give me your passports.
Me : Handed over the passports

IO : What's the purpose of your visit
Me : I work as xxxx in yyyy company on H1B via

IO : Oh, so you came to Canada because if you were to go to India, it would be a long drawn process
Me : Yes, but I was able to enjoy the time off too.

IO : Are you on H visa?
Me : yes, H1B

IO : Can I see your I129 form?
Me : Gave

IO : I need the first page on the form. It should have a stamp from the consulate. They should have given you a copy. He said he would need that first page to send it back to the service center (I suppose he meant NSC).
Me : Sorry sir, but this is what I have, and they didn't give me any copy. We kind of went back-n-forth on that. I told him, perhaps consulate kept the first page. He then said, you obviously have approved H1B so you are authorized to enter US. He then showed me another copy (that he got from another H1B visa holder that day) which indeed had a stamp with start/end dates of H1B visa. I am still confused why I wasn't given any such copy.

IO : Have you filed for green card?
Me : Yes Sir, I have been waiting for ~5 years and by the looks of it, it will take several years. He said he knew there was wait but didn't have any idea that it was that long. He alluded towards the per-country limit, to which I said the exact amount for India and China. Again, he was surprised and said, it should be proportionate to the population.

IO (to my wife) : What do you do?
She : Housewife.

IO : Stamped our passports, showed us our end-dates and said good luck.
Me : Thank you Sir.

NOTE : At least in Calgary airport, US CBP officers sit right after security checkpoint in the airport. So there is no CBP entry at the US POE.

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14 hours ago, Canada012017 said:

Congratulationsss! Thanks for sharing your experience. How long before ur appt u waited to book calgary slots, any idea on how many days ahead the visa slots will get open for calgary location? I am checking for Jan and i dont see any past jan 2017.

I had scheduled 11/2 appointment date on Oct 15. The dates seem to change everyday so keep looking if you don't find what you see. Jan dates may not be visible yet though. You can check the appointment wait times at below URL:

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