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Montreal H1 Stamping Experience - Stuck for 2.5 months

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I would urge H1 applicants to not go to Montreal. The consulate is extremely busy with Immigrant Visa applicants and give TCN NIV applicants the very low priority. They did not take time to understand my case and subjected me to additional scrutiny for no reason. Here is my detailed experience, it may be quite long for some of you but hopefully I'm able to help people in a stuck in a similar situation.


Interview Date/Time: 6/15/2015 7:40am

Consulate: Montreal, Canada

Visa: H1B Renewal - 7th year, 3rd Stamping in Canada - Previous 2 visas received in 1 week from Toronto and Ottawa.

My Background: MS in CS from USA. Working in EVC Model on Client site. Same client for past 2 years and also worked there for 3 years in the past. Client location is a Research Lab.


Interview:

VO: What do you do?

ME: Answered


VO: Who you work for?

ME: My company name


VO: What are your job duties?

ME: Explained. Also mentioned that I work at client site along with the client name / location. She stopped me half way.


VO: How long working in U.S.

ME: Answered


VO: Can I see copy of approved 140 copy?

ME: Gave it to her


VO: Do you have CV and list of publications?

ME: Gave resume and told her I do not have list of publications.


At that point, she gave me a white slip (nothing on it said 221g), circled Administrative Processing and checked the line that said List of Publications and told me that they need to further review my case.


ME: I did not publish anything

VO: Then don't send anything, we will still review your case


ME: Can you give me some idea on how long this would take

VO: You are educated, you should know this


I had no idea what was going on at that point but now I know that they did a TAL check on my case, presumably due to the fact that my client location was a Research Lab. I was never privy to any research related information and my Client / Vendor letter had no mention of the word "Research" so in hindsight, if it wasn't for my resume, I would probably not have been subjected to this.


Sequence of events after the interview:

6/15/2015 - 1st Email Sent with Requested Info: No Publications.

6/22/2015 - 2nd Email Sent for Follow-up: No Response

6/25/2015 - 3rd Email Sent for Follow-up: Response received on 6/26/2015 - Did you send list of publications? (Already sent email on 6/15/2015)

6/30/2015 - 4th Email Sent for Follow-up: Also asked if they received previous email. In a few mins, they confirmed they received it

7/7/2015 - 5th Email Sent for Follow-up: No Response

7/9/2015 - 6th Email Sent for Follow-up: No Response

7/14/2015 - Visited Consulate personally – they did not let me in and asked to send email. On sending email - I received a response in 1hr, basically saying it is pointless to keep sending email when the status is already available in Auto Response emails. I'm assuming they were pointing to the fact that the Auto-response said it could take upto 90 days for Admin Processing.

8/17/2015 - Consulted with a well known immigration attorney. They said try for H4,that is your best bet otherwise nothing much that can be done, just wait for approval.

8/18/2015 - 7th Email Sent for Follow-up (after 60 days): No Response

8/18/2015 - Contacted local senator office. They said they will try to follow up but if the case was in Admin Processing, they wouldn't be able to do anything to expedite it.

8/18/2015 - Scheduled H4 Visa Appointment for 9/10 as a backup, incase nothing happened till then

8/25/2015 - Email Received to Submit Passport, instead of dropping it off at local Loomis office - I went to the address on the instructions, (which turned out to be a UPS store) and dropped off my passport personally.

8/27/2015 - Around 11:30am, my CEAC status updated to ISSUED

8/28/2015 - Did not receive email for passport until 5pm so decided to visit the Loomis office in Lachine being that it was a Friday. The person was really good - he said even though the office closes at 7pm, if I got an email by 9:30pm then call him and come and pick up the passport. Fortunately, I did receive the email at 9:15pm so rushed there and got my passport.

8/29/2015 - Returned home after 76 days.


My guess is that the consulate did not even touch my case for the first 3 weeks. After that they sent it to Washington for TAL Check. My Visa Stamp says "Clearance Received 7/31/2015" which means Montreal took almost a month to process my case after they received clearance from Washington. I had been following a lot of other threads from Murthy and other forums and for most cases with TAL, the response time was between 30 days to 3 months depending on the Consulate and the time of the year. Summer and Christmas time are really slow with lot of people out on vacation. Also, during Summer time, Student Visas get priority over H1.


During the first month, I kept calling NVC quite frequently. For the most part - they did not provide much information and a lot of times misled me so I stopped calling them. Around 7/10, two different people of two different days told me that my case was "Pending Conclusion by the Consulate" which got my hopes high and then a couple of days later, a guy said there was nothing like that. Around early August though, when I called NVC asked them if there was any update on my case they said yes and I asked when - they said 7/31 which was the exact date when my was case received clearance. So it seems like they do have some level of visibility.


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This post helped me so much during my waiting period. I also appeared in Montreal embassy for H-1b stamping on September 21st 2017. During the interview VO gave me white 221g slip and informed that it will take 3-4 weeks to clear the hold. After 4 weeks I started following this post and my timeline for status and visa approval was similar as posted above. Visa application status was updated regularly twice a week on the website (Every Monday/ Tuesday and Thursday/Friday) and my application received clearance on November 2nd. I submitted by passport for stamping on November 6th and received passport back with stamped visa on November  16th. I entered back to states after exact 2 months. So my advise for candidate in the same situation is for Montreal embassy it generally takes 8 weeks to complete the process. I have tried sending emails regularly to embassy every other weeks and tried contacting NVC once every week after 4th week via phone. My lawyer contacted embassy on 6th week and received the same response i was getting. If you are applying for visa application in Montreal embassy prepare yourself to wait for 8 weeks otherwise apply from your home country as I felt the language and culture difference in Montreal made stay even tougher than i should have been. 

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Hi,  I came to Montreal on 6th November 2017 for my H1b visa stamping (Full time Employee, 3rd renewal, same company). I am a Chemical Engineer working in the research department. After the interview the visa officer took my passport, I797 and resume and told me that they will review my resume but the visa is approved and you will get the visa in 3-5 business days. On November 7th 2017 I got an email from the consulate that your visa is under administrative processing. The passport even returned back my passport and I797 on 8th November  2017 (by Canada Post) without stamping. Its been more than two weeks now and its the same status. I have written number of emails to the consulate in case they require any information , but they replied they do not need any documents. I was not given any 221g after the interview or later on when they returned my passport and I797. 

 

My first two stampings were pretty smooth and never had any issues. Did anyone else have a similar experience? 

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What country are you from?


“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

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Been hearing of several Indian nationals being stuck in Canada, Mexico, etc with 221Gs and H1s stuck in AP.  Tough times ahead. 


I-751 journey

 

10/16/2017.......... ROC package mailed

10/18/2017.......... I-751 package received VSC

10/19/2017.......... I-797 NOA date

10/30/2017.......... Notice received in mail

10/30/2017.......... Check cashed

11/02/2017.......... Conditional GC expired

11/22/2017.......... Biometrics completed

  xx/xx/xxxx.......... waiting waiting waiting

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No one is "entitled to" or "guaranteed" a visa even if they have had one before.  It is a privilege to be permitted to work in the US.  I can certainly understand that someone in a field that gives the individual skills that could be detrimental to the US would be subject to increased scrutiny in today's worldwide environment.

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19 hours ago, CEE53147 said:

No one is "entitled to" or "guaranteed" a visa even if they have had one before.  It is a privilege to be permitted to work in the US.  I can certainly understand that someone in a field that gives the individual skills that could be detrimental to the US would be subject to increased scrutiny in today's worldwide environment.

That is not why they are taken longer with the visa. USCIS already approved their petition. It is taking longer because they are not Canadian and consulates close to the US hate people going there for visa stamping instead of traveling to their own countries. It gives them too much work to do and they cannot cope with it. Plus, consulates are supposed to run background checks in the individual's country of origin and they cannot do that from another country (they have to fwd to the consulate in India or whatever). It is a well known fact and the reason why I have always preferred to travel half around the world to stamp a visa on my passport.

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2 hours ago, usavisastamping said:

Thanks @Coco8 for the reply, I just wanted to make sure I am not missing anything since I never got any 221g and wanted to make sure if I need to do anything from my end. I guess right now I will just have to wait till the administrative processing is over. 

You have no other choice


I-751 journey

 

10/16/2017.......... ROC package mailed

10/18/2017.......... I-751 package received VSC

10/19/2017.......... I-797 NOA date

10/30/2017.......... Notice received in mail

10/30/2017.......... Check cashed

11/02/2017.......... Conditional GC expired

11/22/2017.......... Biometrics completed

  xx/xx/xxxx.......... waiting waiting waiting

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Posted (edited)
On 11/25/2017 at 11:14 PM, Coco8 said:

It is always recommended to go to one's country of origin for anything visa related. 

 

 

Is there any empirical evidence for your suggestion? I would think that since for AP (talking about the Resume cases) the case needs to go to the same agency (Washington?) for a review, the location you interviewed at won't matter. Also, in case folks are permanent resident of a country other than their country of origin, logic dictates that their activities in their country of residence get scrutinized just as much as their activities in their country of origin. So, I fail to see how interviewing at the country of origin mitigates possibility of AP to any extent.

If you say so from your experience, could you provide a more detailed reasoning for your assertion?

Edited by darth vader

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