Saturday, November 19, 2011

H1-B visa stamping in Calgary

Easy Breezy !!

Completely hassel-free. It was easy to book the appointment, as the appointments were available. I think nobody really goes to Calgary consulate, because it is in the middle of nowhere. And because of that the crowd is less and eventually you get the passport next day. Yes, next day, of course if everything goes well.

So here we go, booked the appointment at:
http://usvisa-info.com/en-CA/selfservice/ss_country_welcome

Paid the initial fees, and then you have the option to use the payment code in multiple forms ( for different consulates). With a little computer knowledge you can login and check for available dates as per your convenience. I did the same. Booked the appointment, got employment verification letter, and then booked the tickets. Here is an issue with Calgary, it is a little expensive to fly there, which, I thought would be a much better option, then dealing with delays and stress at other US consulates in Canada.

I was lucky to get an appointment in Calgary after 13 days, and after login in checking after few days, appointments were available in the next 7-8 days. That just shows how much less crowded the Calgary consulate is. I stuck with my old date which was after 2 weeks.

Flew into Calgary on a Sunday, I was asked at the Canadian Immigration why I am visiting? I showed them the interview appointment letter and it was all good. No major hassels. Reached there on Sunday night, checked into a hotel. Hotels are an another hit on your budget, as they are expensive in Calgary. I was not surprised as it is a Canadian boomtown, thanks to the discovery of oil.

Interview was on Tuesday ( Monday was public holiday - July 4th). Arrived at the consulate at 7:45 for a 9:00 AM interview. There was no line. Few peoples ( may be 2-3) showed up for 9:00 AM appointment. The guard opened the door at 8:30AM. Remember not to carry any backpacks, as they dont allow. You might have to make a trip back to your car, incase you carried a backpack with you.

At precisely, 8:45 AM we entered the main building, after few security checks. The process is so streamlines, that you feel like a components that is moving on an assembly line. They check your documents first, then finger prints and then a brief interview. Asked me few question may be for 3-5. Remember to know your job well. They will def ask you what you do. I am a FTE hence had fewer questions. Doesnt mean if you are a contractor they will ask you more. I wouldnt know :). After few questions, I was told congratulations your visa is approved, and you will receive your passport tomorrow ( at the DHL location). I was expecting to be there at least 4-5 hours, but was out in 25 minutes, at 9:25. The consulate is in the downtown, but everything was closed that early, hence I had to drive back to the hotel.

So next day got a call from DHL at 6:45 PM that my passport was ready for pickup. I said I will be there in 15 minutes, and the morons said : sorry we will be closing at 7PM. I think they get the passport at 5:30-6:00 PM ( next day of your interview), but they dont call you until the end of the day. I wish I had known that earlier, I would have gone at waited there, and got my passport the very next day of interview. This way I could have flown back to the US in 3 days . Oh well, it still was better than many other places.

There isnt a lot to do in Calgary, except if you go there in the Summer. Beautiful place, and even more fun in Banff (1.5 hrs drive west of Calgary). Def plan to go there. Its worth it. From Banff drive may be 30 min more to Lake Louise.

So overall a pleasant experience.

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