|Consulate Review: Montreal, Canada
Review Topic: K1 Visa
|Review Date :
||August 10, 2017
|Embassy Review :
||Hi Everyone! I had my K1 Visa interview yesterday and I'm writing to tell you about the lead up to it, flight & accommodation details and the interview experience itself.
I'll start by saying my fiancé is from California and we decided to hire an immigration lawyer to help us through the process and ensure everything went smoothly. It was expensive, of course, and we aren't really sure it was worth the cost. I will admit it was helpful when completing the DS160 on line form and for knowing which doctor to contact in advance, but really, that seems to be about it. :/ Unfortunately, the paralegal 'helping' us submitted the Packet 3 email incorrectly. For those of you not there yet, there is a very specific format required for the subject line of the email, which they tell you, but she did not follow it. When we had not heard anything within a day (and saw others were getting the 'go ahead' to schedule within about a day or so), my fiancé became suspicious and started investigating. Sure enough, it had been done incorrectly. Luckily he decided to re-submit the email with the subject line in the proper format, with a note explaining why we were doing so. The next work day (Monday, July 17) we got the approval to go ahead and schedule the appointment. We immediately booked the first available spot: 7:30am on Wednesday, Aug. 9. We had to laugh when a day or two later the paralegal contacted us to say we had gotten the approval to schedule and she would do that for us. We told her we already knew and had taken care of it.
After securing the appointment date, we booked our flights. I live in Victoria, BC, and we had pre-arranged for my fiancé to drive up from California so he could accompany me to Montreal. I must say I envy those of you who are able to drive to Montreal! Flying from Vancouver Island is expensive. Alas, it has to be done so we booked with Westjet. We basically travelled all day, but flying time was about 4 hours and 15 minutes.
We wanted to be able to walk to the Consulate from our hotel, and though the Marriott was *super* close we chose the Hilton Garden Inn, as my fiancé is a Hilton Honors member. It was fairly close, taking about 10 minutes on foot from door to door. It's a lovely hotel and we were able to use points to enjoy breakfast both mornings of our stay.
We arrived in Montreal late afternoon the day before the interview. We decided to map our walking route to the Consulate so we knew where we were going and how long it would take. It's worth pointing out that if you simply type in 'US Consulate' in a map app you *might* end up in the wrong spot. :S That's what happened to us on the first 'test walk'. When we entered the actual address we found it right away. Like I mentioned above, it was only about a 10-minute walk from our hotel.
Interview day: I would be lying if I said I wasn't a *tad* nervous. We got up pretty early, as we wanted to arrive at the Consulate for around 7:00am, given my interview was at 7:30am. Like others have mentioned before, we arrived to find a note on the door saying the building opened at 8:00am (which we had seen the night before), but thought maybe there was some sort of exception for visas since the appointment time was prior to the opening time. Yes, confusing! We tried the doors; locked. We went to the nearby Starbucks to grab a drink and wait a few minutes, and returned around 7:15am. Still locked and dark. Within minutes, others began to gather, all with folders in hand. We chatted with those folks (if you were there that morning HI! I hope it went well for all of you!). The lights came on inside around 7:30 and the security guard opened the door and asked us to line up outside, with those of with 7:30 interviews at the front of the line.
Upon entering the building, there is a small area with an individual behind a podium who will take your passport and confirmation email. She puts a sticker on your passport and hands that and the email back and provides you with a laminated sheet with a list of the order your documents should be in. At this point we asked if my fiancé could come in too. She asked if he was the petitioner and when she found out he was, allowed him to proceed. Up about 3 stairs is a security area - it's like a tiny version of airport security. There were 3 guards, all quite pleasant, who helped us with putting our items through the scanner. I 'beeped' through the metal detectors (not sure why) but quick wand scan had me moving along. We had our cell phones with us (for photo documentation up to and after the interview) so we handed those in to a lady behind a desk just after security. She gives you a ticket that allows you to claim your items as you exit.
Next we were directed to head down a flight of stairs and into a waiting area. It's a soft green room with a bunch of chairs around it's perimeter. It has no clocks (or at least none I saw) and security cameras and posters about immigration and such. Within a very short time all the people who were outside with us were in the room. There were about 8 people and enough chairs so people could spread out.
At this point we arranged the required documentation according to the laminated sheet we were given earlier on. Prior to coming to Montreal we had organized our documents according the order they were in in a package prepared by our lawyer. I had colored flagette tabs (basically, sticky notes) on each document, with the name of each document on the tab. This was super helpful when ordering the materials according to the laminated sheet, because at this point, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, so any thing to make the process easy was good!
It was a few minutes before a guard came along and asked to once again line up to board the elevator that would take us to the 19th floor where the interviews would be held. We dutifully did so. The ride up was in silence and to me it felt like an eternity, though it was probably only a few seconds. When you exit the elevator, you enter an fairly large open area that is clearly a government office. There are a bunch of black chairs in rows facing the elevator. When you sit, you see a set of wickets/windows to your right (not for visa people), another set to your left and also some down a little hallway. We were all asked to take a seat and told we would be called up according to the number at the top of our laminated sheet. I was number 1. A blessing and a curse at the same time. I could not benefit from hearing anyone go before me (some have mentioned has helped ease their anxiety) BUT I would be first to get it over with and be done, so that was good. We waited a few more minutes. At this point we chatted with some of the other applicants.
Finally, I was called up to a window. A kind lady explained she would be asking for the various documents. She did not request them in the order on the laminated sheet. I'm not sure why. She verified my address and phone number as well as my fiancé's, and asked if it was our first marriages. She stamped documents, typed on her computer & kept originals I gave her. At the end of processing the documents, she took my fingerprints electronically. When she was finished, she told me I was done with the first step and I was asked to take a seat and notified I would be called again according to my number. One. Ugh.
I sat with my fiancé, trying to relax (ha!) until I was called. It wasn't that long before I heard the overhead announcement summing me to Window 8. 'OK, here we go' I thought to myself. *Breathe*
I was so pleasantly surprised when a plain-clothed officer who resembled Lucy Liu smiled and asked how I was doing. She was so friendly I immediately felt more relaxed. She returned my original documents and, with a smile, asked me to raise my right hand to swear that the information in the documents and what I was about to answer is and would be true. She proceeded, in a very pleasant conversational manner to ask me how to call my fiancé (Dan or Danny?) and how we met. I told her 'our story' (about meeting in Disneyland) and she smiled and said it was very sweet. She asked when we 'knew' and the date of our first visit after our initial meeting. She casually asked something about ever having any convictions etc. and had I ever had any trouble at the border (obviously no). She then asked about our plans for the wedding. I think that was it! She smiled and typed throughout and ended by 'well you're an easy case and you're approved'. I wanted to jump up and down but kept my composure (at least for the time being). I returned to my fiancé, wished the others well, and we were on our way.
Thank you to everyone who has written these reviews; they were so helpful! Also, sorry for the novel. I just wanted you to have a good sense of things from start to finish.
I wish you all the best of luck and safe & smooth travels!