My L-1B Blanket Visa Process 101

For those of you who are new to my blog, I share my experiences and learnings related to career development and life! Recently, I moved to the U.S. for my new job as a Communications Manager at Microsoft.

Today, I shall share all the details about what the U.S. visa process was like for a born and raised Canadian 🇨🇦

Who was involved?

Fortunately, Microsoft has a team of immigration lawyers who work on visa sponsorships (in my case, using the L-1 Visa Blanket Petition). This particular type of visa sponsorship is for U.S. employers who sponsor a lot of work visas for their foreign employees (e.g. from other offices around the world).

What was the process like?

  1. I visited the online Immigration Portal and filled out a bunch of information about my personal and professional history.
  2. The lawyers then evaluated my details and determined the most suitable work visa type for me.
  3. I had to fill out a questionnaire outlining my job responsibilities and employment in one of the Microsoft subsidiaries.
  4. My manager also had to fill out a questionnaire highlighting the new role and responsibilities and the unique skillsets and experiences that made me the ideal candidate.
  5. The lawyers then took all of this information and prepared a 100+ page package with all the documents needed for the U.S. customs border officer to review.
  6. I reviewed this package and then met with my immigration lawyer to ask questions and prepare for the customs interview (Note: Canadians can do a Port of Entry interview at the airport instead).
  7. I then scheduled my flight (this was handled by my relocation coordinator).
  8. On the day of my flight, I went to the airport 3 hours in advance, passed through security, and then had my Port of Entry interview on the spot.
  9. The customers border officer asked some questions, reviewed the documents, and then proceeded to stamp my forms and passport (Note: expect to pay a $500 USD fraud detection fee).

When and where did everything take place?

Most of the prep work was done virtually through email, and there was a lot of back and forth.

The Port of Entry interview was done at the airport once I passed through security on the day of my flight. It was definitely a nerve wracking experience and took about 1.5 hours of waiting and processing.

Tips

For fellow Canadians who are going through a similar process, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Get copies of your university transcripts, degrees, and certifications ready
  • Update your resume and create a brag document highlighting all of your key achievements and experiences
  • Get copies of your previous pay stubs (up to 12 months) to prove your employment
  • Renew your passport and I.D.
  • Search up and prepare answers for the port of entry/customs questions
  • Be patient because these things take time!

Best of luck as you go through this (exciting) process!

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