H1B renewal at Vancouver BC, August 2015


ThrowAway007

Recommended Posts

Hi All,

 

I’ve benefited from reading some of these forum posts so am contributing my recent experience at the Vancouver US consulate. I hope someone finds this useful.

 

This was my third H1B renewal. After two renewals, the USCIS allows further renewals if your employer has applied for a GC. My prior H1B application and renewals were at Chennai. This was my first visit to Canada.

Note – I have a Master’s degree from a well-known US University and have been working as an engineer for a large, technology company on the West Coast for the last 7 years.

 

I applied for a Canadian Visa prior to submitting a DS-160. I submitted the DS-160 around the time I was notified that my Canadian visa was approved.

 

Arrived Vancouver 19th August 2015, visa appointment was on 20th morning at 7:15 AM. I had booked an AirBnB private room in an apartment about a 20 minute walk from the US consulate. On the evening of the 19th, I walked from my apartment to the US Consulate so I would know the way and there would be no confusion the next morning.

 

Applicants should know that the entrance to the consulate is somewhat discreet. There are no easily visible signs on the road or building. The entrance is around the side of the building. There is a Starbucks on one corner, you have to go to the right of the Starbucks and around the side of the building. You will most likely see a queue of people so you'll know immediately.

 

I arrived at 6:50 am and saw a small-ish queue of people so I walked around a bit till it was just past seven then joined the queue. After about 10 minutes we were told to join the next queue right at the doorway to the consulate.

 

They took my phone at the door and gave me a wristband token. They checked my passport, visa appointment letter and I-797 before the door.

Security is very high at the consulate and you will be checked 2-3 times and also have your things passed through an x-ray.

Don't take a backpack or bag, only your documents or document folder.

 

Once inside and past the main security check, a lady at the first counter checked my passport again and gave me a token number. After this point, I waited briefly in another queue and  then was escorted up an elevator to another floor for the interviews.

 

There were a few people waiting inside and I easily found an empty chair.

There was only one visa counter open and a young-ish Caucasian lady was doing the interviews. I waited my turn (which took a while) and watched the interviews.

The lady was friendly and polite and most interviews seemed to go smoothly. Some cases took longer as the visa officer asked lots of questions. After some time another counter opened, manned by a young Asian/Chinese man.

 

Some time later my number was called, I went to the window with the young Asian man. He was pleasant and polite.

My interview was pretty smooth and was done in about 3 minutes.

He asked how long had I worked for the company and how much was my salary.

He also asked me for an LCA. I did not know about this document (had forgotten about it) but I had my I-129 and that contained a copy of the LCA.

That’s it, interview over, visa renewal approved.

I left via the building and went around again to pick up my phone from the entrance.

Total time taken was about 2 hours , most of it was due to standing in queues and security/documentation checks. The actual interview was very short.

 

Later I checked the CEAC visa website for updates on my passport. The status was updated as “Administrative processing” followed by "Issued" the next day.

Some hours later the Loomis tracking number was posted and clicking on it took me to the Loomis tracking page.

 

I spent the remaining weekend roaming around Vancouver and sampling the excellent food.

 

The following Monday, I picked up the passport from the Richmond Loomis center on my way to the airport. Note - if you have not rented a car and are using public transport for passport pick up. It is about a 20 minute walk from the Skytrain station to the Richmond Loomis center. I think it may be better to pick it up from a better connected Loomis center in Vancouver rather than do all that walking.

 

General advice based on my experience:

-          Apply early and give yourself enough time to get an appointment and all docs together.

-          If your interview is early in the morning then consider staying in the downtown Vancouver area so you can get there on time.

-          Use AirBnB or similar service. It’s pretty reasonable and worked well for me.

-          Carry only your documents with you to the interview.

-          Listen carefully to what the Visa officer asks and answer clearly and confidently

-          You may have heard or read about bad experiences at the consulate (don’t let that stress you out). I witnessed about 8 interviews and all were ok.

-          Memorize what documents you have and the location in your folder, so you know instantly and don’t need to fumble around.

-          If you’re staying in Vancouver a few days, take some time out to explore the city and enjoy some good food.

-          Vancouver public transportation is pretty good. Use it if you are staying in or around the  main city.

-          If you are using public transportation to pick up your passport, avoid the Airport/Richmond Loomis center unless you like walking.

 

All the best

J

 

 

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.