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H1B Stamping in Vancouver
Has anyone gone to Vancouver for H1B stamping? Please share your experience and any pointers. It will be a great help.
Also, I found this on Vancouver consolate website:
"Passports and visas will be returned to the applicants with Canadian addresses by Canada Post, generally within three to five business days after the visa is approved. In person pick up will be available only in a legitimate emergency (as determined by the Consulate). "
This is disconcerting. I do not have luxary to wait 3-5 days to get my stamped passport via mail. Is this a standard process? Will they allow in-person pick up the same day?
Vancouver takes around 4 business days to give your passport with Visa stamped on it. My cousin went in 2 weeks back and he had to extend his stay for 4 more days. So plan ahead.
Actually they say it might even take 5 days too but thats unlikely.
Lemme share my H1B Visa stamping in Vancouver, BC in July 2006:
1. First of all, you need to fix a Visa Stamping appointment via www.nvars.com.
2. Get a Canadian visa to make your trip to Canada. (I didn't have to do this since I hold Canadian Green Card.)
3. On the appointment date, be atleast 1 hour ahead of your appointment time.
4. Do not carry any electronic items (car remote, camera, etc) and food/liquid.
5. Carry all the relevant paperwork along with cash in US dollars, just in case you wanna pay fees by cash.
6. Present the documents asked for, and answer questions posed by the Visa officer confidently.
7. The attending Visa officer will tell you to go to a particular counter to pay a reciprocity fee.
7. Once the fee is paid, you need to collect your passport with new H1B visa stamped the next day at 3 PM.
You will not be able to collect your passport with H1 Visa stamped the same day. If your paperwork is organized (meaning you have all the relevant documents for H1B visa stamping), you'll get your passport the next day. Normally, it is stated in their printed document that it would take 2 - 3 business days. In reality, you can collect it the next day unless your case requires more investigation (due to any missing documentation, etc) by the US consulate. You should stay there for atleast 2 business days to get your H1B visa stamping done. Getting your visa stamped in contiguous neighbouring country like Canada and Mexico is convenient as opposed to going to your home country which would otherwise cost your more time and money.
Hope this helps.
Last edited by wellwisher02; 03-27-2008 at 03:37 PM.
I went to Vancouver consulate in Jun 2006 and had very good experience. My appointment was at 8.00 am and I was out of the consulate by 9.00 am. The officer asked me which company I work for and my job description. No questions were asked to my wife. I have also been to Toronto and Montreal consulates in last 3 years for the visa stamping; however Vancouver staff was most friendly. I got my passport the next day.
However as the process has changed recently, it might take longer to get the passports back. Please don't carry anything other than your wallet and documents and that too in a folder; NOT a bag. In case they don't let you in, there's a small cafe on the opposite side of the road. You can pay some money to the guy or buy something later and he would allow to keep your stuff there.
PD - Oct 2003, EB3-India
Applied for 485
Contributed $800 so far & proud to be a recurring donor
Recent Vancouver experience Oct 2010
I got my H1 B stamped in Oct 2010 at the Vancouver consulate.
The first thing you need to get an appointment at Vancouver consulate is to visit their website (Vancouver • U.S. Consular Services in Canada). Instructions on the website are pretty straightforward. Use the online system to enter all your information and fill up the DS160 electronically. Upload a recent photo (within 6 months). I saw a number of people have to produce newer photos when I was at the consulate because the ones they provided were too old. If you screw up on that , don't worry there is a photo booth inside the consulate (that is super expensive) and you can get pics there. There is also a store across from the consulate where you can get pics.,\
Once you fill up your DS 160, continue the application process for the visa, and at the very last step you can request a date. I did mine a month in advance and I think the system releases dates only 1 month in advance. My appointment was on Oct18 and the system allowed me to change dates upto Oct 15. Pay the online fee using your credit card and make sure you have a printer handy. The reciept they send you is important and make sure you print it out immediately. I did not find another spot where you could print it.
Now that you have an appointment , if you are Indian , you will need a valid visa for Canada. Goto the Canadian consulate website for the USA and depending on your nearest consulate send the application. Please remember the Canadian consulate is not as efficient as the US consulate and allow at least 3 weeks for them to process your visa. Mine took over 15 days and they sent the passport back regular ordinary mail. The passport reached a day late , so I had to rebook my airline tickets. If you plan things well , you can get your passport back and book tickets then. I have read online that you can send them an express mail cover , but I didn't see anything of that sort on the website, you can try it, worst case you will be out $20. The Canadian form is a pain , but once that is done, just mail everything in. For Canada I said reason for visit was "tourism" , didnt really talk about the Visa renewal. I included bank documents, and last 3 paystubs. You don't need a valid US visa to go to Canada because technically the H1B document is valid for return.
Assuming you have got your Canadian visa, buy airline tickets to Seattle, it is much cheaper than buying tickets to Vancouver. Once there there are a number of ways to cross the border. You can be super cheap and take a bus , or if you have friends and family you can rent a car and drive across. My car rental rate for the whole week was $275. Vancouver has a great public transport system and you do not really need a car there.
I crossed over at midnight so there was no traffic, the lazy Canadian border guard didn't really care , barely looked and my passport and waved me through. (Makes sense that they don't care that much because the US is so strict, if you are here and crossing over, you are probably legal!) Don't take any food across, thats one of the questions they ask you, and if you do have any , it would probably be a hasssle.
Now that you are in Canada, you don't have to stay downtown Vancouver. I pricelined a hotel (Hilton) in Burnaby, which is the next suburb also called metro town. $75 a night , whcih was a great deal for the hotel, right across from a really large shopping mall.It was also 5 mins walk from their sky train system.I would suggest getting a hotel for atleast 3 days. and then getting more if you required. So I parked my car there. Monday morning , interview day, I took the skytrain downtown, I think the stop was waterfront or the one before that, sky trains are empty, fast and efficient <20mins to get downtown and $3.5 for the ticket. 5mins walk from the station to 1075 w pender street where the consulate is located. There are hardly any signs, so you may have to ask around. Hint: the consulate is in the same building as the Starbucks. Don't bother going early than 20 mins, because you will just stand around waiting. 20 mins in to your appointment, make your way to the consulate.
You will need your passport, supporting documents (just the bar code DS160 reciept), pay stubs, H1B notice etc
They will do a preliminary check at the entrance,DO NOT TAKE YOUR CELL PHONE or any electronics with you, you will be sent away.
After that you go to this dull , drab room, where you sit around for about 1/2 hour till they check your docs and wait for finger printing. They are usually very friendly there, any discrepancy , they let you correct it, not like Chennai where they kick you out.
After 1/2 hour I got finger printed then was taken up to the 20th floor, where I had to wait for 5 mins.When my number was called.
I then went up to the counter, the lady asked my what I did, where I worked (Usual BS), it was my third renewal, so it was pretty lax. I work for a Big 10 school, so it wasn't much of a problem. I was done in 5 mins, and she said that she was sticking sticker on my passport so I could come back on Wednesday and pick it up, or I could have it sent to DHL, I said , I would come back.
I was out of there, I then explored Vancouver for a couple of days, went back to consulate on Wednesday when a security guard handed me my passport. I pricelined the same hotel and extended my stay for a few days, then drove back to Seattle.
On my return, my entry was smooth, they checked my paperwork, american border guards were very efficient and friendly. It was a half hour wait at peach arch, and I was there at 7 am. I did notice lines getting bigger. I had to pay$6 for a new I-94 and then drove to Seattle airport and was out of there.
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