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Showing posts with label VISA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VISA. Show all posts

30 November 2015

Applying for a US Visa in Toronto Canada Experience

Is it easy to get a US Visa when you're in Canada?

Most Filipinos dreamed of going to the United States of America.  Some wanted to take a tour and others to migrate.  On the other hand, what it takes to get a Visa from the Philippines?  Is it the same as while in Canada?

I have friends and relatives who attempted to apply for the Visa in the Philippines but were denied.  Some got through and stayed there for good.

My goal was only to be here in Canada and maybe I can visit the US in the near future.  It's not my dream to live in the US.  If given an opportunity, maybe a 5-day tour is enough for me.

One day, I was called by the company's CEO and was tasked to do one important thing.  They need me to get a Visa for a business trip to the United States of America!  I was a little shocked and excited at the same time.  It's an opportunity of a lifetime.

A lot of blessings were given to me since I get here.  This time, I was caught unprepared.  ...Then, I suddenly remembered the difficulty of having the Canada FSW Visa, the documents that I need to prepare.  But now, it would be easy for me because all my documents were ready.

The only issue of me having the US Visa is that I have to arrange it myself.  But, the company will shoulder all the expenses.

So, I searched online for the procedure and gathered the required documents.

For your information, I will explain the step by step process of getting a US Visa here in Toronto.  This is a B1/B2, for tourism and business, type of VISA,  it's also termed as business and business for pleasure.

STEP 1 (Preparation)
I prepared the documents needed for the VISA.
1. Passport
  • Current Passport valid for travel to the United States. The passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements.) 
  • .  Passport containing the most recently issued U.S. Visa (if applicable). 
2. 2x2 photo ( hardcopy and softcopy)
Went to a photographer and informed him that I need photos for US VISA purpose and paid C$19 for 4 copies.
The photographer sent me a JPEG copy for online submission.

3. Father, Mother, and Relatives in US Details
My parents were no longer living so I have to rely on the previous copies of my previous CIC application regarding their details.  I have to know my father's and mother's birthday.  This will be used for online application later on.

If you have relatives in US, know their details like name, birthday and address.

4. Education Details
I need to know the school details like the name and address, degree and date of graduation.

5. Previous Employment Details
I need to provide the duties of current and past employment.  Resume comes in handy.

6. National ID number
I used the Philippines Tax Identification Number for this.

7. Proof of Legal Status in Canada.
I have my passport with me, with a Canadian Visa stamp in it, and brought a photocopy and original copy of my COPR and Permanent Residence card just in case they ask.

I did not include my wife and kids in my application.  For your information, if you want to include them in your application, here are the requirements:
The following documents may be useful to support your visa application:
Intention to depart the United States upon completion of your travel.Sufficient funds to cover all expenses while in the United States.Evidence that you have significant ties to the country to which you intend to return at the end of your stay in the United States (This is generally established by evidence of family, professional, property, employment or other ties and commitments to a country other than the United States.)
So, I requested a letter with the intention of my stay, funds, and significant ties in Canada from my employer just in case the US Consulate asks.

8. Details of Destination
I printed the list of all the names and addresses of our US suppliers.  This will be asked at one portion of the application.

We set a certain date of my departure for the sake of the application.  It was a tentative date because we were not sure if they will approve my Visa or not.

STEP 2 (Online Application)
After Completing the required information from 1 to 8, I went online to make an online application at this link:
Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS160)
1. I chose Toronto, Canada for the location and there are three red tabs at the right of that website, I clicked the "START AN APPLICATION" tab.

Don't worry if you don't finish the application, you can save and retrieve it anytime, just remember the Application Number.

If you have other questions regarding DS-160, go to the link below:
Frequently asked questions for DS-160

2. Upload the photo online
At the end of the online application, there's a step there on how to upload the photo.

3. Sign the Document Online
You have to finish the process by signing the document online.  It is just like agreeing to all the terms and conditions pertaining to your application.

4. I printed the completed DS-160 form.

STEP 3 (Online Appointment)
Schedule an appointment by creating an account with the website.
Schedule an appointment
I created an account with the website and selected the available time of appointment.  Luckily, I got an appointment 4 days after my online application.

Then I paid USD160.00. A receipt was emailed to me for my future reference.

I printed the Confirmation and instructions page.
 Note: Bring the Confirmation and Instructions page at the Interview printed from the website 
STEP 4 (Interview)
The very first thing to consider during the interview is not to bring prohibited items.  There are many in the list. To avoid such concerns, what I did was to wear and bring the basic things like:

Clothing and Personal Belongings:
Jeans (no belt)
Shoes and pair of socks (no metallic object)
Car key

Letter from my employer
Payment Receipt (emailed)
Proof of Legal Status in Canada (PR Card, COPR)
Confirmation and Instructions

Contact information and how to visit on appointment day.

The documents were placed in a clear folder so I can retrieve it easily.  There was a line (queue) outside of the embassy, but I arrived on time for my appointment anyway, so no worries.

The person in charge checked the documents and led me to the entrance door, where the x-ray machine was located.  Then another person reviewed my documents then instructed me to proceed to the room.

There's another queue that leads to the 3rd document checkpoint where I presented my passport.  Then I queued to another line, which leads to the Visa Officer (Interviewer).

It took me about 20 minutes with all the documents checking from the main entrance of the embassy to the Officer counter.

While on the queue, I can hear the voice of the Officer asking an applicant because the counter have speakers in it.  Some were approved and others denied, I can see tears or smiles on their faces.

Even though my application was not a do or die thing, but I felt nervous.  When it was my turn, I felt the rapid heartbeat, but my facial expression remained calm.

The officer asked me about my job and places to visit in US, took my passport and gave me a piece of paper and told me..."Your Visa is Approved!" took 5 minutes for the decision.

Two weeks after, I received an email. It was an instruction on how to pick up my passport with the Visa.  It was at a designated forwarder.

So I went to the forwarder's office, showed my PR Card and opened up my passport.  Another sticker was printed on it, with a Visa validity of 10 years!

Watch the Video:

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29 May 2015

How Do You Feel After Having the VISA

Spring Time: Photo taken when I was on my way home after sending SAM to school (
Federal Skilled Worker Program process is difficult, it burns out your time, money and effort.  Then all of these will turn out to be rewarding once you receive the much awaited VISA.

For the first few days of having the VISA in your hands, you feel like your in the state of nirvana.  When the excitement subsides, it will get you to a point of asking yourself, like what my readers emailed me.
Dear Ben, 
Glad to hear you are doing well :) I just received my visa, I want to write to you and ask if you think we should be leaving. You see, we are terribly afraid now, how did you do it?

You see, we are quite comfortable here, do you think we should be living. Appreciate it if you could give me your most honest opinions on whether we should stay or leave. We are Singaporeans without relatives there, are we really better off here? If i move, what should I expect? Can you share more about your wife's experience? Now, i am really scared @#$!%!
Ms. P. (let me know if you want to state your full name here)

Dear Ben
How are you? I hope you are doing great. Thanks for all the info in your web. It was informative and useful.

Btw, I just received my Passport request email from Singapore Visa Office today, I feel bless for that.

I'm planning to arrive at Toronto at around October 2015 from Jakarta.

How is life out there Ben? At the land of your dream.

Now that I got the passport request, how come I have such fears in my heart. Do you have that kind of feeling as well?

Can you share, how did you handle it?
Mr. D. (let me know if you want to state your full name here)
The fear of going out of your comfort zone now kicks in.  Going to a place and not knowing how your life will be, needs a lot of courage and a tough character.  This will be a life-changing journey, for better or for worse.

Here were my replies...
Hi Mr. D., 
First of all, I'm glad to hear such a good news.  This is a life-changer for you. 
You're not alone who feels anxious after receiving the Visa.  I too had felt it after I got the Visa in my hand.  It gave me mixed emotions, leaving my relatives behind and bringing my family to Canada. 
Having my whole family with me to Canada made me worry more. I'm afraid if I don't get a job or my wife does, what will be the arrangement.  Another thing, my Proof of Fund was just enough for us to survive in months. 
Lucky enough, God helped and blessed us a lot.  Got a fine job here with good benefits.
Setting up your mind is what you'll need here.  If you've read my post about my life here in Canada, it emphasized my feelings and what I did. This is to give you and idea on how's life once you get here.  You have to accept the fact that you will start from scratch "0".  
Coming from a tropical country, seeing the zero degrees from National Geographics on your TV screen is peanuts. But, wait until you get here and experience the -22degC temperatures.  You will tell yourself, "What the H.... am I doing here in Canada?".  
You feel like you're tortured when the cold weather touches your skin and penetrates into your bones.
But, you see, with perseverance, discipline, and a proper mindset, we survived the harsh weather and learned that Canada is not bad at all.   
You feel the joy once the spring comes, seeing the real beauty of Canada.
Hi Ms. P, 
We really don't know how our lives will be once we got here.  As long as you're prepared and accepted the fact that you will start at level 1 or even "0", you'll be fine. Don't be discouraged for there will be blessings to come sooner than you think.
I also felt the same way as soon as I received my Visa. I then realized and asked myself, "This is it? Then what?".   
I prepared my mind before coming here... even the thought of having a janitorial job in a stablishment.  As soon as we arrived here, I opened all my options, saying yes to all the offers of my friends and the friends of my friend.   
Now, here I am, working with the same NOC, the same work I had in Singapore with higher salary and benefits. 
When people get out of their comfort zone, there's always the feeling of fear.  It's normal, you're not the only one having this kind of feeling.  But, once you get here and will get to know the place and environment, you'll begin to like it.  For me, this is the best place that I've ever been to.  
If you need help when you're here in Toronto, just give me a shout.  I'm willing to help and guide you to the best that I can.
This opportunity comes once in your lifetime, grab it! 
Don't be discouraged when you hear bad things about Canada.  We have different preferences, goals, and mindsets.  It's up to you to see and experience it yourself.

Our only common denominator is to have better lives for ourselves and our family.

Do you want more photos of Canada like the one on top?  Please tick the LIKE button below.

16 April 2015

MM2C NEWS: MM2C Subscriber Got A Very Good News!

Helping someone achieve his dream is the best feeling money can't buy.  Few days ago, one MM2C subscriber emailed me to share his good news.

Before I start sharing,  I want to let you know that few months ago, when I was in Singapore, I met him and made a post about it.

Meeting with an FSW Applicant and MM2C Subscriber

What is the Good News?
He sent me an email...
"Hi Ben,
Just want to share with you, I got my PPR.
I have sent my passport using VFS to Visa office and now I am waiting for the passport to return to me with the visa on it hopefully. 
Now, I am worried about finding accommodation in Canada. One of my facebook friends who is living in Vancouver told me that he has room to rent in his house. But I am not sure Vancouver is the right place for new immigrant who is looking for job.
If you have time, please share what is the best option of accommodation for single new immigrant like me. 
How is your life in Canada so far? "
If you are still not familiar with the FSW abbreviations, like PPR, it's a PassPort Request.  When you get this request, that means you had passed the Medical Exam and Police Clearances.  

Then, Canada will give you the most important sticker in the world, the VISA!  Here's my experience with it...

 My Answer to His E-mail
"Hi Friend,
WOW! Congratulations!
I'm so happy to know that you have your Passport request and soon to receive your Visa.
My suggestion for you, since you have a friend in Vancouver, that you stay there first and try to find a job.  Your friend can help you settle there in every step of the way.  
The good thing also is that you can have a room to rent with him.
Compared to living in Toronto, it's difficult for you to settle here if you don't have someone to stay with.  
Although there are lots of apartments and basement houses here that you can rent, but you will be with a complete stranger.  It will cost you around C$500-$1000/per month to have a 1-bedroom flat here. It might cost you around C$300-500 for a bedroom or in a basement.  This is only my estimate. 
I am not familiar with the employment in Vancouver. But in Toronto, there are lots of survival jobs here especially when you land during school time.  You can work in factories while applying for the perfect job. 
For now, I'm working in my field, not an assembler anymore. My job is the same in Singapore, my NOC, which is Instrument Technician and mechanic.  My salary is higher than in Singapore.   
If you have read my wife's post in my blog, she is now a full-time housewife.  We can still have our savings with this setup with the help of the Free education for my kids and allowance from the government.  For now, we are good and happy! 
It's up to you to decide and let me know where you want to land."
Federal Skilled Worker application was the most difficult program that I've been through.  A lot of time and money I'd sacrificed.  All I can say for now is that...


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28 August 2014

VISA-Stamped Passport : New Update from the CVAC Singapore

Got an email from the Canada Visa Application Service (CVAC) in Singapore informing me that our processed passports were dispatched from the Canada Visa Office and is ready for collection.
I paused for a while, still holding my mouse, bowed down, closed my eyes facing the floor and said "Thank's God!", with a sign of relief.
At my previous post about sending my passport to CVAC, I had explained there on how to go to their office.  You can follow that post here.

What I Felt at the CVAC Office?

With no time to waste, I went out of our office and headed to CVAC.  I had to hurry because the collection schedule of the passports was from 2:00pm to 4:00pm only.

My heart was beating fast, feet felt numb and had butterflies in my stomach.  This is weird, even if we were already informed from the previous month that our visas are approved, the excitement was still intense. 

Knowing that our passports will be on my hands and touching it in a little while, had me realized that time really flies fast, and now, this is the real thing!

At the 11th floor, one lady applicant was in front of me, holding her folder.  I can also sense how she feels right at the moment.  She's so excited to go inside the CVAC main door, and so was I.

When it was my turn, the guard gave me a queuing number and I'm the second person to collect.  My hands trembled from the excitement.  I can't explain why I am feeling this way, it could be because of the FSW Applicant Syndrome.

How Our Immigrant Visas Look Like?

The attendant pressed the button for the next queue number, and it was my turn.

I handed her my Identification Card (IC) and the CVAC receipt for verification purposes.  She went inside the small room and came back bringing 4 big brown envelopes.

Each envelope has a sticker on it, labelled with our names and particulars. She instructed me to inspect the details of each passports before leaving the room.

I sat down, hands still shaking.  As I ripped off the sealed envelope, I saw my passport initially opened at the center page, with the most valuable sticker in the World, my FSW Immigrant Visa!!!

The most valuable sticker in the World, my FSW Immigrant Visa!!!
The feeling of fulfillment is within me at that moment, I was at cloud nine.  I can still recall the years of anxieties that I have been through, it was refreshed at an instant by this one thin piece of sticker.

What are the Other  Enclosed Documents?

Aside from the passport,  it enclosed 2 sheets of paper and a brochure.

  • The paper is the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR), one copy has the photo of the applicant. 
  • The brochure is for the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP).

You can see my Timeline for the bird's-eye view of my FSW Canada journey.  Press LIKE if you have also felt the excitement.

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Ben Alagnam - MeMovingToCanada