successful 8th year stamping in Ottawa - Nov 26


sunilkm

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Dilemma about the Dates and Location

I booked my first US visa appointment on 18th October in Toronto, CA for Nov 25th.   I paid the fees online using credit card instead of the other methods suggested.  I then applied for the Canadian visa on 20th October by filling the online application. There were quite a few documents that were requested by Canada site, and one of them was the appointment confirmation letter from US consulate.  After I uploaded all the documents, paid fees for single entry visa and submitted the application, I got an email reply that it will take 45 days for processing of the application.  At which point I thought it won’t be possible to attend the interview in Canada before December. Meanwhile I sent an email to my attorney about attending the interview in Canada and got a response that they recommend to attend interview in home country instead of attending in a different country as a third country national. I postponed the appointment to Dec 16th and changed the location from Toronto to Ottawa (Toronto was full).  After a few weeks went by I got a notification from Canadian consulate on Nov 8th that they made a determination on my application and they need my passport. I was surprised to see that email so early and I immediately sent my passport and changed the appointment date from Dec 16th to Nov 26th ( I wanted to book on Nov 25th but it was already full for the day).

 

 The day before the interview (Nov 25th)

From this same forum I realized, it was pretty common that it takes almost a week for this process and that I should plan a trip for a week. I hired a rental car for a week and drove across the border into Canada at Windsor city. I stopped at the Canadian border post and the guy at the booth directed me to go into the office to set me up for immigration clearance, and handed over a yellow slip. I parked my car and walked into the office. An officer at one of the tables called me over and checked my passport and the visa, and asked where I was going and for what purpose. I told the officer that I was going to Ottawa (I got the accent wrong on it) but there was a conflict with the original document I uploaded to their website which had Nov 25th appointment date in Toronto. The officer checked my latest appointment letter again and cleared my application and stamped the passport and yellow slip. I came back to my car and while coming out I had to stop at the turn and hand over the cleared yellow slip to another guard at the gate. I drove 8 hours to Ottawa and it was dark and really cold by the time I got there.

 

On the day of the interview (Nov 26th)

My interview was scheduled at 8:30 am. I drove there by 8 am; GPS came in very handy because my smart phone doesn’t have network coverage out of the country. It was very cold outside, I found a place to park the car right in the street opposite to the consulate in a metered parking. The consulate does not allow anything (like cell phone, wallet etc) except the document folder, so I put all of them in the car. I reached the gate, it is a secured facility and there were couple of people in the line in front of me.  I passed my coat, gloves and documents through an x-ray machine and went through a metal detector. The guard took my car keys and handed over a token, they have a locker to hold small things. After I went in through the door, a lady is standing right after the entrance checking documents, she asked for passport and the H1B approval copy and a photograph. She kept them in an order and asked me to proceed to a window a little further where an officer collected my passport and handed over a token and a slip that explains about taking finger prints of all the ten fingers. A few minutes later my token number was called to another window and I was ten printed, 4 fingers from left and right hand and 2 thumbs together. I watched a few more people coming in after me going through the same process. There were couple of other people in the same boat as me and their numbers were called, it is a small area so everyone in the room could easily hear what the visa officers at 2 of the open windows were asking. I observed a couple of guys before me got a request for admin processing and the VO told them it will take couple of weeks to clear this. Basically they had some inconsistencies in their DS-160 application form. But couple of others got cleared with straight forward questions and after ½ hour my token was called to a window. The visa officer (VO) was an elderly gentleman, and he was the one who said additional time is needed to clear the application of 2 other applicants. By the time I went to the window VO has already jotted down some notes on my application confirmation page. From the look of them I figured it out they are questions coming in my way.

VO: Hi Good morning.

Me: Good morning.

VO:  So I noticed that you have held a couple of visas and employers since you entered the US last in Dec 2008. How many companies you have worked for since then?

Me: 3 companies.

VO: So you have never left the country in last 5 years?

Me: That is correct.

VO: Why Ottawa?

Me: I thought I would use the thanks giving holidays to come to Ottawa for visa stamping and also visit a friend in Canada at the same time. I have plans to travel outside the country next year for couple of weeks and I am not sure I will be able to schedule an interview during that same time.

VO: How long have you been working for XYZ Company?

Me: a little over 4 years now.

VO: What is your role in your company?

Me: I tell him about my title and the team I work for.

VO:  what is that you do in your job?

Me:  I am xyz and blah blah blah….

VO: May I see your latest pay slips and w2 please.

Me: I hand him over the last pay slip and w2.

He carefully looks into the details for a few seconds.

VO: so do you get paid once in 2 weeks or monthly?

Me: Once in 2 weeks.

He looks at the company logo curiously for a couple of seconds and

VO: so XYZ is that…. …. company?

Me:  Yes that is the company. (my company is a very high end brand)

He gave both pay stub and w2 back to me.

He turned to the computer and types a paragraph of comments for a minute or so. He then scrolls down on the application page, I think he landed on the family section and without even looking at me asks

VO:  So your wife is in the states and not a dependant?

Me: Yes sir, she has her own independent h1b status.

VO:  How old is your child?

Me: I have a 15 month old toddler.

VO:  and the child with your wife?

Me:  yes

VO: Ok, it is going to take couple of business days for processing of your visa. Thursday is a holiday but the courier location you have selected might be open. Please check online on the status of your passport pickup. If it doesn’t get processed in the next few days there is a very good possibility that it might be early next week before you get your passport, in which case be prepared to stay around for the weekend. 

Me:  Thank you, Happy Thanksgiving!

 

I collected my documents and walked out of the facility towards my car. Couple of days later on Thursday I got an email confirmation from Loomis that my passport is ready for pickup and I went Friday afternoon to collect the passport. It was pretty straight forward, you have to present your airway bill number and they will check you in the system, open the passport and verify you match to your photograph and they will get a signature confirmation the passport has been delivered. After collecting my passport I drove to the Ottawa downtown area, it is pretty near to Loomis location. There are a lot of government buildings if you have time to spend; I visited the parliament area, a very beautiful and picturesque city indeed. The next day on Saturday I drove back crossed the bridge to US and I went through the security and I-94 admission procedures. It was pretty straight forward but takes like ½ hour or so, customs thoroughly checked my car in the mean time. I was handed over the passport and I-94 and I headed back home. This is where the story ends!

 

Good luck to everyone!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Can you share your experience as to whether you have done your education (masters) in Us or home country ? As it is said that Canada gives stamping only for those who have an education background from United States. Also please let me know whether it was H1B stamping for the first time or not ? 

Very excitited to travel to Ottawa after reading your experience. I  am  in the fourth year of H1B and never travelled outside US and do not have H1B visa stamp on my passport. Kindly guide.

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