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How to Apply for a US Visa in Toronto – Tips to Save You Money and Time

US Visa Application From Toronto

My cousin from the US invited us to spend Christmas in California. Having been denied a US visa the first time I applied in the Philippines, I was actually hesitant to try again. First, it’s not that cheap and second, we just moved to Toronto. Nonetheless, we applied and was lucky enough to get a 10-year multiple entry visa for the three of us.

I have no facts to prove that applying  for a US visa from a third-world country is harder than applying from a first-world one, but it seems to be the case. Now that there could be some changes in the immigration rules in the US due to change in leadership policies, we’ll never know how hard or easy will it be to secure one in the future. Good thing we were able to secure it before these new policies are applied.

So, how did we do it? Google will always be your friend in times like this. There are a lot more comprehensive steps out there than what my blog post can provide but what I’ll be providing you are the steps on how to apply without spending too much money and time for a non-immigrant/visitor visa.

The Steps

Most of the information below will come from this site.

  • Determine if you’ll be needing a US Visa.
  • Determine  what visa will you be needing. 
    • Tip: If you will not be working, migrating or studying in the US, your visa will most likely be “B” (B-1:Business or  B-2: Tourism and Visit).
  • Prepare a soft and hard copy of your 2×2 picture. 
    • Tip: Although you are encouraged to use a professional visa photo service which will cost you around  ($15-$25), you can always use your phone camera for this. Use a white background. If you know how to edit a picture, you can use pixlr editor, it’s like Adobe Photoshop but it’s online and it’s free. For the digital photo, you can use this tool for gauging the size. For the hard copy, use this guide to resize your images in MS Word for printing. Use a high-quality photo paper when printing. Note, the visa officer didn’t ask for the hard copy but it’s safe to bring one. If we went with a professional photo service, it would easily cost us around $45-$75 but with a little perseverance, we only spent $8 for the photo paper. 🙂
  • Complete the online visa application DS-160 form here.
    • Tip: If you are applying from Toronto, select Canada, Toronto as the location where you will apply for the visa. Always take note of your Application ID in case you want to continue filling out the application at a later time. We had to fill out our application four times because of the session expiry every 10 minutes or so. Also, there will also be times when you can’t upload your picture due to a technical issue with the site, try to do it an hour after. In our case, we needed a day before we were able to upload the photos. Take note of the requirements you need to bring for the interview. 
  • Book  and pay for your appointment
    • Tip:  Detailed steps are here. Choose the earliest and the most convenient date and time for you. Usually, the earliest available date for an appointment is two weeks from the day you are applying. We booked a morning schedule and it took us around 45 minutes to complete the interview. As of writing, it costs USD 160 per applicant. During the booking, you can also indicate how you want to receive your passport if ever your visa application is successful. You can have it delivered to your doorstep, but it will cost around 
  • Prepare your documents
    • General required documents are passport (valid for six months beyond your period of stay in the US), printed DS-160 confirmation page, payment receipt, Proof of Legal Residence (Permanent Residency Cards), birth certificates, and marriage certificate.
    • Supporting documents could be Evidence of Employment (you can get this from your HR, ensure that your position, joining date and salary is indicated and printed with the company letterhead), bank statements and photo if you failed to upload your photo in the DS-160 form. Note, visa officer didn’t require me to submit my evidence of employment and photo.
  • Attend the Consular Section Appointment (Interview)
    • Tip:  If you are applying from Toronto, the US Embassy is located here. Entrance is at the back along Simcoe Street. Try to arrive 20-30 minutes before your scheduled time. Don’t bring any electronics (mobile phones, laptop, tablets) as these are prohibited inside the consulate. Don’t forget to bring the required and supporting documents. You can also practice answering these questions. If your application is successful, the visa officer will ask for your passport for processing and  you’ll receive an email regarding your tracking number for your passport delivery. If you’re not successful, you’ll get a slip giving you a general idea why your application was not successful.
  • Pick-up or Wait for Delivery of your passport
    • Tip:  Depending on your delivery option, you can either wait for your passport or pick it up from the designated post office. Since we chose the in-person collection, I have to personally visit the postal office. Be sure to bring an ID when picking up the passport. It took around 5 days for us to get the passports after the visa was approved.

For any general questions about the visa application process, you can check AIS’ FAQ page.

Conclusion

We could have spent more than a thousand dollars if we opted to get assistance from the “professionals”. In this age where digital information is always available, all it takes is a little bit of time and effort for you to save a couple of bucks.

Total Amount Spent: USD 485 for 3 applicants

Total Time Spent: 4-6 hours inclusive of the interview

If you find this post helpful, I’d be really grateful if you’ll help me spread it by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin. Thanks and ’til next post.

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14 Comments

  • Reply Bea |

    “I have no facts to prove that applying for a US visa from a third-world country is harder than applying from a first-world one, but it seems to be the case. Now that there could be some changes in the immigration rules in the US due to change in leadership policies, we’ll never know how hard or easy will it be to secure one in the future. ”

    What changed in your case since your visa denial is that you became a Canadian PR, and that’s why you were able to secure a US visa.

    • Kulas Reply Kulas |

      Hi Bea,

      I believe that is probably the main reason why we were approved. But, though not a proven fact, it’s a little bit harder to secure a US visa if you are applying from the Philippines.

      Thanks you for your comment. God bless.

      Regards,
      Kulas

  • Reply Tom |

    Hi,

    Were you and your wife called together for an interview or you have to do it separately?

    It would be great if you can answer this.

    • Kulas Reply Kulas |

      Hi Tom,

      We were called together, including our daughter. I think when doing the application, you can specify if you are doing the interview as a family.

      Regards,
      Kulas

  • Reply joseph |

    pards,

    gano katagal yung interview? wala ba lockers dun for gadgets? thanks

    • Kulas Reply Kulas |

      Hi Joseph,

      Interview is just 5 minutes, waiting for it though takes around 30 minutes. There are lockers in a nearby 711 I think.

      Regards,
      Kulas

  • Reply Tom |

    Hi

    Thanks for sharing your experience.
    My Dad want to travel to US. He is a new immigrant with Canadian PR card.
    He does’t know English well. My question is:
    Could I help him to apply for the US visa and come along with him to the Interview?

    Does he need to bring the marriage certificate to the interview? While he only travel with his friends.

    When paying for the fees, Could I use my credit card for the payment? Or he have to go to his bank and pay by himself? (so that he has his name on the payment receipt). He does not have credit card.

    Thank You for your help!

    • Kulas Reply Kulas |

      Hi Tom,

      Yes you can, I believe, try to confirm this. I saw people there assisting their parents during the interview.

      Well, technically you don’t need to BUT, it is safe to bring all documents that will prove that whatever you entered in the form are true.

      Lastly, yes you can use your credit card. We used somebody else’s credit card as well.

      Hope you get this sorted out. Good luck and God bless.

      Regards,
      Kulas

  • Reply Tom |

    Hi

    Thanks for sharing your experience.
    My Dad want to travel to US. He is a new immigrant with Canadian PR card.
    He does’t know English well. My question is:
    Could I help him to apply for the US visa and come along with him to the Interview?

    Does he need to bring the marriage certificate to the interview? While he only travel with his friends.

    When paying for the fees, Could I use my credit card for the payment? Or he have to go to his bank and pay by himself? (so that he has his name on the payment receipt). He does not have credit card.

    Thank You for your help!

  • Reply svaid |

    Dear Kulas,
    Thanks for this blog. I always see to- the -point interactions here and they are very informative.
    I have received the “Confirmation of Permanent Residence” , issued on August 9, 2017 valid till February 27, 2018. My city of destination is Toronto and I plan to go somewhere in January 2018
    I wish to know if there are any other processes, documents , I need to apply to for leaving to Canada in January 2018. In January, I intend to simply get my stamping of visa done and I will move somewhere in end of 2018. What is the Permanent Resident Travel Card all about? Do I need to apply for that before I go to Canada in January 2018? Or just the stamping on my Passport which says issued on August 9, 2017 valid till 27/02/2018 enough for me to Board the flight to Toronto?
    Please provide the much valued guidance.

    Thanks and kind regards

    • Kulas Reply Kulas |

      Hi Svaid,

      Once you’ve landed, you will get your PR card after a few months (We got ours after two months). You need not apply for it, it will be sent to the address you’ve indicated during your processing with the immigration officer. You’ll need the PR card to enter Canada again when you leave for example to another country. Think of it as your identity card here in Canada. Hope this answer your question. Good luck.

      Regarda,
      Kulas

  • Reply svaid |

    many thanks for your reply Kulas. So i understand i dont need any other documents/paper besides the stamp on my passport which says i should make an entry before Feb 27, 2018 and the COPR (confirmation of permanent residence). the COPR is water marked ” not valid for travel”. this grabs my attention.
    I dont have a Canadian address yet and the only address i mentioned in my PR application is my present permanent address. so i shall have my PR card delivered to me here in India, is it?

    • Kulas Reply Kulas |

      Hi,

      Where will you be living once you’re here? You’ll be needing an address when you land here. An address of a friend or a relative will do and no, they will not be sending it to India.

      Regards,
      Kulas

      • Reply svaid |

        I am still looking for a job by which I can rent a furnished flat, pay my bills and save a bit. so I don’t know really where I am going. but I intend Toronto. that would be a thing to work upon to find a friend whose address i could use for the prtc.

Let me know about your thoughts.