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?
- I visited the online Immigration Portal and filled out a bunch of information about my personal and professional history.
- The lawyers then evaluated my details and determined the most suitable work visa type for me.
- I had to fill out a questionnaire outlining my job responsibilities and employment in one of the Microsoft subsidiaries.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- I then scheduled my flight (this was handled by my relocation coordinator).
- 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.
- 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.
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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