H4 to F1 (Border Crossing).
Visa interview date: 19 Feb 2020 (Wednesday).
Appoint time: 7:45 AM.
Place: Toronto, Canada.
Be prepared to go early for your interview even though you live/stay close by the US consulate. If you are new to the place, go the US consulate where you are going to attend the visa interview a day prior and check how far it’s from your place and roam around the neighborhood. Get familiar with the area. Look for some stores where you can take printout close by. These will help you during the emergency. Ask one of your family member or friend to accompany you on the interview day. They have mentioned 15 minutes early to the appointment is enough but it is my suggestion to be at least 30 minutes early to the appointment. I reached the US consulate well before my appointment time. There wasn’t much crowd, I believe because of the winter season. There were only 5 to 6 people before me in the line outside the US consulate.
Step 1: Passport check
My turn came; the security checked my passport and asked whether I have any weapons or mobile phone or any prohibited items with me. I answered no. He asked me to proceed to the security check. I went inside the US consulate. Check the list of items which you cannot carry with you inside the US consulate. https://ca.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/calgary/security-procedures/?_ga=2.14595511.1638103991.1582306085-1730199926.1582121600
Step 2: Security check
The security officer will ask you to take off your winter gear and place it in the scanning machine. They will provide you with a tray to keep all your documents and belongs for scanning. Make sure you empty all your pockets before you move to full body scan.
Step 3: Passport and DS160 confirmation check
Before you join the queue for next process, they will check your passport and DS160 confirmation page and stick a sticker in the back of your passport and ask you to join the line.
Step 4: I20, SEVIS Validation and Photo scanning
This is where the line for the first counter starts. My turn arrived; the person in the first counter asked for my I20 and SEVIS for validation. They validated my I20 and SEVIS I-901 Payment receipt in their system and asked for my photo. They scanned my photo and then asked to join the next counter queue. If you could upload your photo successfully while submitting your DS160 application, no need to carry a photo.
Step 5: 10 printing
I moved to the next counter queue, first, she asked my I20 and SEVIS I-901 Payment receipt. Then, the person in the counter asked me to place my right hand 4 fingers (except thumb) in the fingerprint scanner/reader. Then, asked to place left hand 4 fingers (except thumb) in the fingerprint scanner/reader. At last, asked to place 2 thumbs together. Make sure you give enough pressure while placing your fingers. Meanwhile, she placed my i20 and SEVIS in a folder and asked to proceed to the interview queue.
Step 6: Visa Interview
The real pressure starts here. Stay cool and take it easy. Be confident. Let’s put the smile on that face. Keep a natural smile on your face which will give them a pleasant look; it’s just my suggestion. The first impression is important. There were three counters, 1 and 2 with male officers and the third one with the female officer. My turn came, I was sent to counter number 2. The officer looked so cool and the below is the conversation with the visa officer.
Me: Good Morning officer!
VO: Good Morning, How are you doing?
Me: I’m fine. Thank you. How about yourself?
VO: Good. Thanks. Can I have the folder? (I20 and SEVIS I-901 Payment receipt)
Me: Sure. Here you go.
VO: Looked into my I20 and asked, is this your first F1 or F1 renewal?
Me: This is my first F1 visa.
VO: Okay. Have you already started to take this course?
Me: Yes sir.
VO: When did you start taking this course?
Me: Oct 2018.
VO: How much course do you got left out?
Me: I’m in my 4th semester and I do have one more semester left out.
VO: You do have a valid H4 visa till you complete your course and why do you want an F1 visa?
Me: My spouse’s H1B 6 year’s validity is expiring and has to return to my home country. I would like to complete my course successfully and walk the graduation ceremony stage. I’m so excited about it.
VO: Good. Where does your spouse work?
Me: *** and the client is ***.
VO: Who is sponsoring your education?
Me: My spouse. We do have enough funds in our bank account sir. That’s one good reason I wanted to complete my master’s degree successfully and payback.
VO: Good. What’s your capstone project?
Me: I do have an ITM capstone course next semester. I’m yet to decide.
VO: Okay. You are yet to decide on that. What’s your plan after your master’s degree?
Me: I would like to return to Canada and look for an opportunity that best suits my specialization in my master’s degree.
VO: When did you come to Canada?
Me: I received my COPR in DEC 2019 and first landed on Jan 2020.
VO: So you are a permanent resident of Canada?
Me: Yes sir.
VO: Do you work here in Canada?
Me: No sir. I wanted to complete my master’s degree successfully, which will open new doors for my career. There are a lot of opportunities in Canada and many companies are coming forward to invest in Canada.
VO: *** Here come the magic words *** your visa is approved.
Me: Thank you so much.
VO: This is a little different than how you enter into the US with your H4 visa. This time is your change of status. While entering into the US, make sure you carry your I20 and SEVIS with you. Good luck.
Me: Sure. Thank you. Have a great day!
I came out of the US consulate. Started to head back to my place and thanked God, spouse, parents, friends and all the well-wishers. It hardly took less than half-hour since I entered the US consulate, complete all the process and head out.
19 Feb 2020 (Wednesday) – Visa interview is done.
20 Feb 2020 (Thursday) – Checked the status of my DS-160 application and the status changed to Issued. https://ceac.state.gov/CEACStatTracker/Status.aspx
21 Feb 2020 (Friday) – Morning around 08:30 received an email with the tracking number for my passport shipment in which it mentioned, it’ll take up to 1 business day to track the package since we receive this email.
24 Feb 2020 (Monday) – Morning around 11:20 received an email stating passport is ready for pickup.
Hope this helps. Stay positive! Stay strong! Good luck to everyone.