*Reference link to abbreviations/terms post*
Before I begin, just wanted to update that there have now been 8 people approved in CSC with September NOA1 dates. I keep telling myself that Ben and I's NOA2 is already on its way :)
Anyways, this blog post will detail the interview step. Some of this stuff can be applied to other consulates while some things are specific to Montreal.
After the case is complete at NVC, the documents are mailed off to the consulate where the interview will take place. In my case, the only consulate in all of Canada that does IR-1/CR-1 visas is Montreal. Because Montreal is the only consulate that does spousal visas, there is an incredible backlog for getting an interview date. Average times between case complete and interview date for other consulates is a month or two. At Montreal, it's about 5 months. It's one of the longer waiting times at a consulate. I think the only other consulate that is longer is Ghana which can take up to a year! Currently, people with December interview dates had case completes at NVC in July. I am really hoping that the backlog at Montreal is improved by the time I get to that stage. Even one less month would be great. I'd really like to be back in the USA by our one year anniversary, but because of Montreal's backlog, it's going to be cutting it close, and that's if we get our NOA2 this month and be out of NVC by the end of January.
A month or so before the interview date, a letter is sent out assigning the date for the interview and information on what to bring, along with information on the medical that needs to be done.
The things that MUST be brought: interview letter (you won't be allowed into the consulate without this), passport (need to hand over if approved for them to attach the visa to), two passport pictures, and medical report.
The things that are highly SUGGESTED to bring: complete copy of I-130 package, complete copy of I-864 package, complete copy of DS-230 package, and evidence of bona fide relationship that has been compiled since the submission of the I-130 (or even before if not given at that time).
Also, since I'll most likely have my interview next spring or after, I'm going to need to bring Ben's 2010 tax information since it might not be filed at the time of our I-864 submission.
Another note, if we do electronic processing, we MUST bring in our original copies of the I-864 and DS-230 forms and the original (plus a photocopy) of my birth certificate, police record, and marriage certificate. The photocopies of the civil documents will be handed over so they can have on file. I also believe they take the original forms with our signatures for their files as well.
Most people (from what I've read on VJ) arrive at the consulate between 6am and 7am as they open their doors early (I believe at 7:30am) and are first come, first serve. Even though people are assigned specific times for their interview, it's not the actual time you'll have your interview. Unless they change this in the future, that's how it is at Montreal. If there aren't any major problems, then one could be out of the consulate in a few hours. The actual interview isn't very long in most cases. The bulk of the time is mostly waiting to be called to various windows.
In the past at Montreal, the method of getting the passport and visa back to the beneficiary is by using an ExpressPost envelope. Now there's a new method in Montreal that has recently taken place. You sign up online for a DHL location closest to you and once ready, the passport/visa will be sent to the chosen DHL location and is then picked up by the beneficiary. The pro for this new method is that it is much faster than the previous one, but the downside is that it's not delivered to one's door. One has to go to the DHL location and pick it up themselves. For many, this might be a two hour drive. If I'm still in Quebec at the time of my interview, it will only be about a 40 minute drive.
This is by far, the step I am most afraid of. The interview determines whether or not I get a visa, so a lot rests on this one day, those few hours at the consulate. This will probably be, for the rest of my life, the most important interview ever. Hoping to get approved!