H1B visa stamping in Toronto 08/28/2017


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    This forum has helped me immensely and it's time to give back to the community.  

For those of you who are not interested in the long story, please skip to ACTUAL VISA INTERVIEW.

My employer's immigration department had warned me multiple times NOT to go for visa stamping as President Trump's executive order for extreme vetting is causing significant delays in the stamping process and majority of the cases are being put into administrative processing.  They also strongly advised me to use automatic revalidation ro renter the US from Canada.  But due to personal reasons and a lot of back and forth emails with the immigration team and a discussion with my manager, I decided to take the risk and go ahead with visa interview.

I had my H1B visa interview in Toronto, Canada on 08/28/2017.  I landed in Toronto on 08/27 night and checked in to the hotel around 11pm.  Woke up early the next morning, got ready and booked Uber to the Consulate. My visa interview was scheduled at 9:45AM and I go there around 9AM.  Since I had plenty of time, I walked around the block a couple of times and stood in the queue around 9:25AM (the email from embassy asked me not to arrive earlier than 15 minutes before the interview). There were about 10-15 people in front of me.  When it was my turn, I walked up to the window/counter and handed over my passport and DS-160 confirmation page.  The person verified my appointment and pasted a white sticker behind my passport.  Now it was time to enter the consulate.  I stepped inside the heavy metal door and there was a security check.  I started emptying my pockets and one of the security guards walked up to me and said my file is too big and I am not allowed to bring it inside the embassy.  I protested but in vain.  He asked me to step outside and speak with the guard.  The guard outside told me to go to a store up the street and rent a locker and leave my file there.  It was very frustrating as it was a normal, regular size file.  The guard outside was also surprised that the file was not allowed.  He tried convincing the guards inside but they wouldn't listen.  Long story short, I went to the store (4-5 minutes away), took out all the documents, kept the empty file in the locker, carried ALL the documents in my hand and came back to the embassy. Entered and finished security check.  The guard who was previously outside was now inside.  I protested some more and he nodded in agreement and apologized.  Now I walked a few feet into a room where there were many people standing in line and some seated.  

My understanding was that document verification would be done here and somebody would then take us up to the 20th floor.  But that did not happen.  There was some renovation going on and all the steps (document verification, finger printing and the actual interview) were done in this room itself.  I waited for about 15 minutes before I was asked to go to one of the counters where a lady checked my documents.  She asked for my passport, I-797 approval notice and 1 photograph.  She put page 1 of I-797 and the passport in the blue transparent file and handed it to me.  She also returned the photo.  I think she scanned a copy of it.  She also gave me the "white pamphlet". I was confused but thought that my visa will definitely be approved since I was already given the pamphlet. 

After this, I joined the line again and waited for about 40 minutes before it was my turn for the interview.  The interviewer was a white male.  He was pretty friendly. I walked up to the counter.


Me: Good morning.
VO: Good morning (I think, not sure)
VO: Please hand over your passport.

I made the blue transparent file visible

VO: Oh! you can hand over the complete file.

I handed over the blue file.
VO types something in the computer.

VO: So where did you do your Masters?

Me: Answered

VO: What does your employer XXX do?

Me: XXX is a service providing company

VO: What kind of service do they provide?

Me: Very briefly explained my project. Almost like a one liner.

VO nodded and continues typing.
VO: So you are living in the US now and came here just for visa stamping?

Me: Yes sir.

VO: Has XXX filed your I-140?

Me: Yes sir.
And reached to my documents to look for I-140 approval notice.

VO: Nah! That's fine.
VO continues to type.

VO: Oh! Looks like your first H1B visa was issued by my friend.
* smiles *

Me: Ummm? Okay?

VO: * smiles * I'm just letting you know.  I see in the system that your first H1B visa in Chennai, India was approved by my friend.

Me: * smile * Oh! Good to know!

At this point I knew there would't be any issues.

VO: Okay.  Your visa has been approved and you should receive your passport in 3-5 business days.

Me: Thank you!

VO keeps both my passport and page 1 of I-797.

Me: Will you keep my I-797 or do I get it back?

VO: What?

Me: I mean I've always got back I-797 approval notice in the past. So just checking.

VO: Oh! It doesn't matter.  We send it back to you anyway but here, you can take it now itself.

I take my I-797, thank him again and walk out.

08/27 night - Landed in Toronto
08/28 morning - visa interview
08/28 afternoon - status changed to Administrative Processing
08/29 afternoon - status changed to Issued
08/30 morning - received airway tracking number
08/31 afternoon - received email asking me to pick up the passport
08/31 evening - left Toronto

If anybody has any questions, please reach out to me.  I will be happy to help.


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