H1B Visa stamping in Canada – step by step guide

Did you know in FY2014, as many as 70% of total 315,857 H1B Visas (including initial as well as continuing employment) were approved for people with Indian origin. Out of these, 138K renewed their H1B status in United States.  That’s a lot of people who have to undergo the ordeal of applying and then visiting a US consulate outside of US to get the passport stamped. Here is a step-by-step guide for H1B visa stamping in Canada.

Canada has always been a popular destination for US visa renewals and approvals. The two cities, Vancouver and Toronto, are usually preferred among the applicants from west coast and east coast residents respectively. There are five other US consulates across Canada you could choose from: Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Halifax and Calgary.

Follow these steps to renew your visa in Canada:

  • Get Canada Visitor Visa – You need to get this before you can travel to Canada. The process is quite smooth now and you can get it done within 15-20 days if done it right. You will have to fill up the application form online, pay the fees and wait for your approval by email. Once approved, you are required to send your passport to nearest Canada consulate to the visa stamped. Read this post for step-by-step guide to applying Canadian visitor visa..
  • Fill DS-160 form – Start filling up DS-160 form here. If you are applying for a renewal, you would have filled one earlier too. You will be asked to provide all your personal, Work and Education information. You may refer to this link for help.
    • You should have a soft copy of  your latest photo not older than 6 months.
    • For travel information, you can provide a tentative itinerary with address of any hotel in the city of Consulate. (For Vancouver, you could give Hyatt, Century Plaza. For Toronto, you could use Residence Inn’s address)
    • When you file DS 160, you will have to chose a consulate .If you want to change the consulate later due to unavailability of dates, you have to edit your DS 160 and reflect the correct consulate. Post submission, DS 160 can still be edited within first 30 days. Refer link for more information.
    • Take the printout of DS-160 confirmation page. Entire DS-160 form is not required.
  • Schedule an appointment – Click on this link and provide your information along with DS-160 application number. There are long queues and wait times for appointments in Vancouver and Toronto, so plan accordingly. If you are looking for an early date, keep checking their website for any cancellations. In my experience, I have seen cancellations take place between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM in their respective timezones. Once appointment is confirmed, pay the MRV fees. You will get a confirmation mail with MRV receipt which you should carry along for the interview.
  • Documents – The documents list varies for each case and you should consult your employer’s legal/HR team to get an exhaustive list of documents. But, here are some of the common documents requested while renewing H1B:
    • Valid unexpired passport – Passport should be valid for at least 6 months beyond the expiration date of your intended status.
    • DS-160 confirmation page.
    • Visa application fees receipt.
    •  Original Non-immigrant Visa Petition Approval Notice (Form I-797) (or similar).
    • Copy of your employer’s Non-immigrant Visa Petition filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on your behalf.
    • Original Educational Documents (a consular officer has the discretion to request original documents).
    • Copy of Your Two Most Recent Paystubs.
    • Original employment verification letter. The U.S. Consulates require that the letter should not be more than 30 days old at the time that it is presented at the visa application interview.
    • Copy of I-140 Immigration petition for Alien worker (required if one is renewing his H1B visa beyond 6 years).
  • Visa Interview – Again, the interview questions depend on your individual case, but some of the most commonly asked questions are:
    • Show me your EVL letter? (It is also sometimes referred to as LCA letter. This is the most important document as it has your designation and salary details).
    • Whats the purpose of your visit to consulate? (I know its quite obvious but they still want to hear it from you).
    • What’s your designation and describe your work/project?
    • What’s your salary?
    • What’s your educational qualification?
    • Have you done master’s in US. If yes, where and when?
    • Are you working at client’s place? Questions around your client company and project.
    • How long have you been working for this employer
  • Passport tracking and pickup – At the end of interview, visa officer will inform you if your visa was approved or not. If it was approved, follow this link to track your passport status. Or you could wait for an email on your registered email address asking you to pick up the passport (typically takes 2 or 3 business days). Until your visa is issued, your VISA status will be Administrative Processing on above link.  It’s just a temporary status as VISA is getting issued. Don’t PANIC at all as long as you have been told by officer that your VISA is approved.
  • Few useful tips
    • For Vancouver:
      • Hotel stay – Hotels in Vancouver downtown are quite expensive costing $150 on an average. You could choose to stay at Richmond which is about 30 mins by SkyTrain with affordable hotel rates. Richmond is also close to Airport.
      • Public transport system of Vancouver city is amazing with skytains scheduled every 3-5 mins. Its easy to commute here without renting out a car.
      • Consulate is located on Pender street  before Starbucks on the right hand side.
      • Don’t carry any laptop bag or other electronics including car keys. If you do, shops located on opposite side of consulate charge 5$ to keep your bag while you are in consulate.
      • If you want to try out amazing Indian food of Vancouver/Surrey, read this post.
    • For Toronto:
      • Hotel stay – Hotels in Toronto downtown are quite expensive too. There are quite a few options on AirBnB in the downtown area for a lot less.
      • Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) provides subway, streetcar, and bus service within the City of Toronto. The connectivity is quite good around most of the downtown area

If you have something to add here that might be helpful, feel free to write to me at desicompile@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

Categories Visa

60 thoughts on “H1B Visa stamping in Canada – step by step guide”

  1. What is the worst that could happen if your VISA is not approved? Would you be put in admin hold and have to travel back to India to get stamping done? Or would you just need to stay in Canada for the duration as they verify your documentation and approve your VISA?

    I have an approved petition for me and my wife. We just a baby so baby is an american citizen. Thinking of going to Canada for stamping once we have baby’s passport, trying to weigh the pros and cons.

    Reply
    • Hi Agm,

      If your visa is not approved, you can stay back in Canada as long as your Canadian visitor visa is valid. But in most cases, the administrative processing may take upto 4-6 weeks and staying back in Canada may not be the most financially optimal solution. You can otherwise spend some time in India with your family/friends and come back to US, when you get your H1B stamped again. Wish you all the best for your Visa stamping.

      Reply
  2. Hi agm,

    I am also exploring the option of stamping h1-b visa for myself in canada, were you able to get more details on it, as in what are the steps to follow, if it does not get approved in canada.

    Also does anyone knows that is there any eligibility for an indian citizen to get h1-b stamping in other countries eg canada or mexico? I currently have i797 approval until august 2017 and the last time i stamped visa in india, that stamping was valid only until May 2015, that is right now its more than 12 months that my visa is expired. So am I eligible to get stamping done in countries other than my home country?

    Reply
    • Hi Neha,

      Yes, you can get your Visa stamped in any US consulate other than your home country too. A lot of people in USA, opt for Canada or Mexico as they are close by. If your I797 is approved, you need not get a stamp unless you are planning to leave US borders. If you do have a plan, arrange for H1B stamping in either Canada or Mexico. Check with your employer or your employer’s legal team though before booking an appointment.

      Reply
  3. Hi,

    I live in US and applying my H1B visa in Singapore because of non-availability of dates in India as I wanted.
    When filling the DS 160 form, what is the Home address and Mailing address I need to give? Should it be my US address or India address or some friend address in Singapore?
    Can anyone please clarify if you have already done like this?

    Reply
  4. We live in Hartford, CT, I see Ottawa consulate is 7 hrs drive from my place.
    Is that okay to drive with US car to Ottawa? Anything to be considered, if i go to Ottawa rather than Toronto? Anyone has any suggestions , please help.

    Thanks,
    Binnoy

    Reply
  5. i am on F1 Visa. I have got H1B approved. I am planning to go to Canada to get H1B stamped.
    Can you please suggest if I can go to Canada for H1B stamping and if yes would the above mentioned process holds good.

    Awaiting for your reply

    Reply
    • Yes you can. I just went to Calgary, Alberta and had stamping within a week. Stayed with Indian family with all inclusive. Cheaper than hotel and close to downtown consulate office.

      Reply
      • Hi Varsha,
        I am sailing in the same boat. I am on F1 visa, need to get h1B stamped. Can you share any tips on the travel? Also, if you could share the contact details of that indian family, that would be really helpful.

        Thanks

        Reply
  6. I am recently approved for first H1B visa. Here is how i made visa transition in USA from B1/B2 to F1 to OPT to H1B in April 2016. Now i am planning to get my H1B visa stamping done in Canada.
    Is it advisable to go to Canada for first time H1B stamping?
    Have you ever heard that people got their first H1B stamping done in Canada?

    Please advise. Thank You.

    Reply
    • Hi Brad,

      It is advisable to go to your home country for your first H1B stamping. However, you can still apply in Canada and I have known cases who got their first H1B approved in Canada itself. But keep in mind that in case of rejection, you will have to travel to your home country or arrange for a stay outside US until the stamping is done. Hope it helps.

      Reply
  7. Hi , I have attended H1-B interview in Vancouver, Canada. I have got 221 G to submitted a scanned copy of my I-140 as my VISA is after 6 years renewal. VO asked many questions like my degree, Payslip , My job specifications. VO told I will get my passport with in 3 to 5 business days. I am waiting for my passport. Does any one have the same experience ? . will they send my passport with in 3 to 5 business days with VISA stamped. ?. I am in Vancouver came from US with my family.

    it will be very hard time to me if I don’t get my passports as VO told.

    Reply
    • Hi Ajay,

      In most cases, one should get their passport if VO told them so. Keep following up on their website or customer care for further information.

      Reply
    • Hello Ajay Kumar,

      I am planning to get my H1B Visa and Wife’s H4 visa stamped from Toronto, Canada. Can you share your experiences and how much time did it ultimately take to get back your Passport?

      Thanks

      Reply
  8. Hello, I have a couple of questions.

    I got my H1B approved with a COS effective from October, 1st 2016. I need to travel Internationally and need to get the first visa H1B stamp on my passport.

    1) I heard that going to Canada or Mexico is not advisable as they are not accepting candidates for first H1B stamping anymore. Is that true?
    2) I would really avoid to go back to my home country in Europe as it will very time consuming.
    I was planning a trip for thanks -giving to Argentina and planning to go to the consulate there, however I am not sure if the third country processing (TCN) is applicable there. The website has no information about it. I also tried to call them but they also refer to the website.

    Would you please assist?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Annuk,

      It is true that travelling to your home country for first H1-B stamping is advisable. You can still give it a shot at Argentina consulate, just keep in mind that you will have to arrange a stay there if your case goes to ‘Administrative Processing’.

      Reply
  9. Hi
    I completed all forms and submitted my application to usa consulate in montreal for my L1A stamping. I was trying to schedule an appointment but dates are far off in late November. Mean while I have to goto India and planning to get my visa stamped in India. I have not yet paid my fee and no appointments has been scheduled. Please advice how I can cancel the first application from montreal and re submit for India.

    Reply
  10. Hi
    I am working in Canada on work permit .
    I have visa stamping appointment in Mumbai but going back to India is costly so company is asking me to schedule an appointment in Canada so wanted to know that is this possible? how easy it is here in Canada?

    Reply
  11. Once my visa was approved, do they mail my passport to where I stay or can I pick it up at the embassy? I plan to get the interview done and then travel around canada while waiting for my visa being issued. But unsure if they have the option to pick up your passport at the embassy once it is done. Can anyone who have gone through the process provide an answer? Thanks.

    Reply
  12. Also want to know if they allow pickups from Consulate. I know nobody in Canada so dont have a mailing address they can ship it back to.

    My other Q is this – my current H1 expires in July. I already got a renewal. Can I go to Canada in May for visa stamping despite current visa expiring in July? ie: Can I come back on my old visa or will they cancel that visa? I presume I cant come back in May with my new stamp because that would start only in July.

    Reply
  13. Hello, my H1B status ends on 9/4/2018 (Sept 4 2018) and my passport expires on 12/25/2018 (Dec 25 2018). Will this cause any issues when I go for my interview at the US Embassy in Ottawa?

    Reply
    • you need to have 6 month validity left on your passport on the day of visa stamping, you have got lot of time to get new passport, better avoid the hassle to carry 2 passport in future by renewing passport right now

      Reply
  14. Hello,
    I am currently working in US on H1B visa. My visa stamping expired last month and now thinking to go to Ottawa, Canada for re-stamping. I will be going there with my wife (H4) and my 2 kids (H4). While filling DS-160, I found some questions which I am not clear what to answer. I would appreciate if you please clarify them:

    For my DS-160 (H1b):
    1. Do you have any immediate relatives, not including parents, in the United States?
    Since we all be going to Canada together, should I mention my wife and kids detail here or not?

    For my kids DS-160:
    1. U.S. Point of Contact Information.
    Here, it should be my name or my employer details?
    2. Is your father in the U.S.?
    Yes or No?
    3. Is your mother in the U.S.?
    Yes or No?
    4. Do you have any immediate relatives, not including parents, in the United States?
    Should I include, mine, my wife and other son information here or not?

    Thanks,
    BK

    Reply
  15. I am planning to go to Canada for my first visa stamping, in case it gets rejected, i understand i must travel to my home country. question is can an H1-B be re approved or do you just get one shot at it?

    Reply
  16. Hi Desi compile,
    I really appreciate about your post and it helped me a lot from starting in guiding to get canada visa, appointment & other stuff. I really thanks you for such a really nice post.

    Thanks

    Reply
  17. I am changing my status from F1 to H1B on 1st Oct and planning to go for H1B interview in Canada in 3rd week of October.
    1)Is that time period okay or is it recommended that I go several months after the change of status on 1st Oct?
    2)As I am currently living in US , what should I enter in the field ‘Home address’ and ‘Mailing address’ on DS-160 for visa interview in Canada? It is confusing because it is unclear whether it is asking for permanent home address in home country or US address is fine. Also for the mailing address I guess some hotel address of Canada where I will be staying needs to be provided?
    Please advise. Thanks!

    Reply
  18. Hello

    My H1-B status shows approved awaiting the official letter by mail. I have a work related travel coming up in the first week of October when I would ideally change status from F1 to H1-B. Should I take an appointment in US consulate of the country I am visiting or my best chance would be to go to India all during one trip and get it done? Or, Should I get it done beforehand during September, 2017 before flying out or is it going to be too ambitious?

    If you could answer that for me.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  19. First up, thanks for your extremely useful post. Second, my husband and I are planning to go to Canada for our visa stamping (he’s on H-1B and I’m on H-4). We both will have to fill out SEPARATE DS-160s right, one for each of us? Thank you!

    Reply
  20. Hi , I am planing to stay at my sisters place, Waterloo,ON. Also I’ll be updating same Waterloo address in DS-160 . My Interview is scheduled at Toronto . Please clarify below question. 1. My passport will be delivered to Waterloo Post office or Toronto Post office 2. Finger print and interview will be done at the same day (back in India , it goes for two days)

    Reply
  21. I am wondering if some one can let me know what is the current waiting period in any of the VISA centers for appointment. thanks.

    Reply
  22. Hi, I heard that if you travel by road you will have stamped on Port of entry. Can anyone share their experiences ?

    Visa stamp on my passport got expired last year but I have a valid 797 for next 3 years . I have canadian 10 years multiple entry visa. If I travel by road to canada from Niagara falls and come back to US same day, Is there any provision to get stamp at port of entry ?

    I heard from a friend of friend of mine that it is doable.

    Expert advice pleases..

    Reply
  23. ” Are you traveling from another country to apply for a u.s. visa? ”

    If i answer :

    yes – the earliest available appointment is on October.
    No – I am able to see appointments for June and July.

    Reply
  24. Hi,
    I am going to Calgary, Canada for my H1B stamping in October’18. I have got my first stamping from India in 2016. I have got my visa appointment date but i don’t see anywhere about the Biometrics. Before my first H1B stamping, I went for biometrics on day 1 and on day 2 was the interview. So, do you know if we have to go for biometrics again before the visa interview?

    Reply
    • Hello Aseem,

      Were you able to submit the Biometrics? I am in the same situation at the same consulate location and any inputs would be helpful.
      Thank you!

      Reply
    • Hello Aseem,

      I am facing the same issue with my Visa appointment in Calgary, can you please provide details on how did you resolve it?

      Thank you!

      Reply
  25. Hi I am trying to fill the DS160 form but it is constantly asking for my travel plans in US, I am travelling to Canada to get the stamping done. So I dont understand how to answer this question.

    Reply
  26. I am on F1 Visa. I have got H1B approved oct/2018. I am planning to go to Canada to get 1st H1B stamped.
    Can you please suggest if I can go to Canada for H1B stamping and if yes would the above mentioned process holds good.

    Awaiting for your response

    Reply
  27. Hello All,
    I have H1b I-94 extension approved till Mar 2021.
    I have last H1b stamped visa till Jun 2018 from Delhi India.

    Can I go to canada before Jun 2019 and use dropbox facilities there?
    will it be smooth or any issues?

    Reply
  28. Hi,
    I have my H1B stamping in Ottawa ,I plan to travel by bus. I have Canada visitor visa.can I travel to Toronto first and from there go-to Ottawa.

    Reply
  29. I have an H-1 stamping appointment in Vancouver and I gave my hotel address as the delivery address. Will the consulate send the passports to the hotel? If not, please let me know how to select a pick up option or any alternate addresses (eg. Loomis) that can be provided.

    Reply
  30. Hi,
    I am currently on F1 CPT . I got my H1b I797B consular processing approval(Without I94 not Change of Status). Also, I do not have any consulate name written on my I797B approval. Can I attend the visa interview in CANADA? I have the Canada’s visitor visa stamped. Can you suggest me if it can be possible? or if anyone were /are in the same situation? Please help

    Thank you.

    Reply
  31. Hi,
    I am currently on F1 CPT . I got my H1b I797B consular processing approval(Without I94 not Change of Status). Also, I do not have any consulate name written on my I797B approval. Can I attend the visa interview in CANADA? I have the Canada’s visitor visa stamped. Can you suggest me if it can be possible? or if anyone were /are in the same situation? Please help

    Thank you.

    Reply

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