|Consulate Review: Montreal, Canada
Review Topic: K1 Visa
|Review Date :
||August 20, 2011
|Embassy Review :
||It's been a few days since I had my interview so I don't know if I'll remember everything correctly. However, as soon as I got back to the hotel after my interview I jotted down some notes so those should help. This is a very detailed review so get some popcorn! I put a TL;DR version at the end.
I stayed at the Hyatt Regency hotel, which is about a 5 minute walk from the embassy and about a 15 minute walk from the VIA train stain station.
The consulate is this big gray building with dark windows. It's on the corner of Boulevard Rene-Levesque and Rue Saint Alexandre. The entrance is on the side street (Rue Saint Alexandre), not on the main street. The entrance is two big glass double doors with the American crest on them. It lists the hours and what items are permitted inside (no cell phones, electronic devices, etc.) Don't bring anything you don't need! Just the paperwork and maybe some spare money and/or cards in your wallet.
I got there way too early, at 6am, because I didn't really sleep the night before and figured I might as well go and be first in line. I sat outside the doors for awhile and studied my paperwork when a nice guy from Toronto arrived. We joked for awhile (he said he thought he'd be the only person crazy enough to show up that early). After a little while longer a few more nice people showed up. I asked if anyone was from VJ and I think a couple of them said they referred to the website for a few things.
The guy from Toronto said he paid his lawyers a lot of money but it seemed like they gave him incorrect advice (one of them said he'd get his passport and visa back on the same day!) This guy was a CR1 though- do CR1s get their visas back in the mail too? I'm under the impression that they don't get them the same day, just like K1s. Anyways, I digress!
By 7:30 there were about 15 people in line. A security guard opened the doors. He asked to see my passport (and my appointment letter too I think, don't remember for sure but it makes sense that he would). You go inside where there's an airport-style scanner. They look for your name on this list and scratch it off. You put your personal belongings in trays that get x rayed and you walk through a metal detector.
Once you've gone through security you go down a set of stairs to a waiting room. Sit near the elevator as everyone eventually goes down there and if you were first in line outside the consulate it doesn't really mean anything. There's a photo booth in case you didn't bring any passport style photos. I sat in the waiting room for awhile while everyone else went through security and trickled downstairs. By the time the guy opened the elevator, it looked like there were about 30 people in the room. He instructed people applying for immigrant visas only to get in the elevator.
As noted in previous reviews, when you get off the elevator it's the door at the BACK that opens, not the door that you entered through. You go up to the 19th floor and once you get off a lady escorts you to a window where a line forms behind you (if you're first, like I was. lol) The lady at the window asked me for my appointment letter and (I think) my passport as well. Then she gives you a slip of paper with a number on it. I was C1.
Once you get your paper you sit down in a large waiting area. There's a screen that displays numbers and which booth to go to. I sat right in front of the screen so I'd know when I got called. The two people behind me were called first. They were CR1s and I'm a K1 so I don't know if that has to do with it. I was the third person to be called. The booths are just down this little hallway. They're like booths where you buy bus passes or something, haha, just glass windows with a slot to pass your paperwork through.
At the first window I gave them my passport, medical exam (not the xray), passport photos, and appointment letter. He took my fingerprints with a digital machine. Then I was told to sit down again and the lady in the next window would see me next when she was ready.
After about 5 minutes the lady was ready. At the second window I was given back my original Packet 3 and instructed to verify the information on it and make any corrections if necessary. My fiance had since changed his phone number so I wrote in the correct one.
After reviewing packet 3 she asked for:
original birth certificate
photocopy of birth certificate
translation of birth certificate
original police check (they don't want photocopy)
USC letter of intent (signed and dated within 30 days of the interview)
affidavit of support and supporting evidence
I want to make an aside about the affidavit of support. It seems like VJers recommend IRS transcripts from the last 3 years. I had IRS transcripts frm 2008 and 2009, and a tax return from 2010 along with the original W2 and a copy of the W2. I was a little unsure about the 2010 tax return because it was done on a computer and didn't look very official, but they accepted it without a problem. For the evidence for the affidavit of support, they gave back the 2008 and 2009 tax transcripts. The most recent tax year is the most important, obviously. They also kept letters from the bank, letters from the employer, pay stubs, and a printout showing how much money my fiance has in his 401K.
At this window they keep your originals and assemble them into a folder for the interviewer to look at.
I returned to the waiting room and waited about 10 minutes before my number appeared on the screen again. The interview takes place in front of a window but it's in smallish room. All the windows/booths are fairly open, which made me feel somewhat more relaxed.
I got the nice soft spoken dreadlock lady. She swore me in and then asked if everything was okay because I seemed nervous. I kinda of stuttered that everything was okay just that the whole process has been nervewracking. She smiled and said not to worry because she was sure everything would be fine! That made me feel better.
She asked me to put my thumb on the digital fingerprint reader to verify my identity. Then she started asking me questions:
-Have I ever been married
-Do I have kids
-Where does my fiance live
-Where is he originally from
-What does he do for a living
-Who he works for
-How we met
-What website did we specifically meet on
-How we met in person
-When we met
While asking these questions she was looking through my paperwork and also doing stuff on the computer. I think she might've googled the company he works for and the website we met on to see if they exist but that's just a wild guess :P She handed back some of the originals throughout the interview- the birth certificate, W2, the copy of the birth certificate translation. She did not ask to see my fiance's birth certificate or a copy of his passport bio page. She did not ask to see evidence of our relationship. She kept all the evidence for the affidavit of support except the 2008 and 2009 tax transcripts. There were also two letters from the bank and two letters from the employer- she kept one of each kind, I got the other ones back.
After about 5 minutes she handed me a piece of paper that said Welcome To The United States. I asked her if I was approved and she said yes at which point I let out a little gasp, haha. Then she smiled and said I bet it was a lot easier than I thought it would be! I said yes then thanked her before leaving.
Actually, I read a bunch of reviews before my interview and figured that if I had all the right papers and documentation it would be easy but of course I was still a little nervous. If anything I was a little disappointed that it was so easy because I had worried so much beforehand and brought a folder with so many copies of everything and so much other stuff they didn't ask for and it weighed at least 5 pounds! Hahaha.
When my interview ended it was 9am. I was the first one to get an interview so when I went back out to the area the guys I chatted with earlier started asking me a bunch of questions! :lol: I answered some (I was a little disoriented and rambling, sorry if I didn't answer your questions very well guys!) but then I left quickly so I could get back to the hotel and call my fiance. I hope that the other guys were approved too, as some of them had unique circumstances. One couple did electronic filing, one nice lady from Ottawa had her case expedited and they couldn't find her in the "system," and I was kind of worried about the guy from Toronto because he seemed unfamiliar with some of the forms we were talking about earlier because he said he just did everything his lawyers told him to do (and as noted on VJ, some people don't have very good experiences with lawyers...)
1. The doors for the embassy open at 7:30am, get there earlyish
2. Then you go through security, don't bring phones, keys, etc., just your paperwork
3. Sit close to the elevator
4. Get a slip of paper with your number on it
5. Wait for your number to get called. You get called up 3 times (assuming your case is typical)
-once to give them your passport, medical, passport photos, and fingerprints
-once to give them your birth certificate, police check, letter of intent, and affidavit of support (and any appropriate copies)
-once for the interview, where they hand back your originals