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Oh, the stuff you can do these days with energy and imagination. The U.S.Consulate General in Toronto did a Reddit AMA last week, answering questions on visas and Amcit services. While the AMA response was modest, we believe this is the first time a consular post did an AMA on Reddit. USCG Toronto processes over 500 nonimmigrant visas a day. In 2008, Consulate General Toronto already had the largest NIV section in Canada. The inspection report at that time noted that about half of all new immigrants to Canada chose the greater Toronto area for their place of residence.
Below is an excerpt from the AMA conducted by FSOs, Nausher Ali, Visas Chief and Kathryn Porter,American Citizen Services Unit Chief at U.S. Consulate Toronto:
We are U.S. Foreign Service Officers from the Consular Section of U.S. Consulate Toronto, and we want to answer your questions about non-immigrant visas and U.S. citizen services! We’ll give as much information as we can in order to help you understand how we work. Hopefully, this conversation will help you be better prepared for a visa interview and/or allow us to help you more efficiently if you are a U.S. citizen living or traveling abroad.
Please note, we are UNABLE to talk in detail about specific cases or “pre-adjudicate” your specific case. We also cannot answer questions on immigrant visas for this particular thread. Any questions that deal more with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will either not be answered or we will link you to their relevant websites for more information. Finally, we cannot answer questions about life in the U.S. Foreign Service for this thread either. There are already a few other threads that do that quite well! That said, we’ll try to respond to as many of your questions as possible!
Our team that is answering your questions consists of the following people:
•Nausher Ali, Consul and Visas Chief at U.S. Consulate Toronto
•Kathryn Porter, American Citizen Services Unit Chief at U.S. Consulate Toronto
Victoria from reddit will be here with us today as well. Ask Us Anything!
Edit: Thank you everybody for your questions. We really enjoyed this today. Sadly, we have to take off. Happy travels!
Questions include topics such as H1Bs, asylum, discrimination, moving, immunity, moving to Canada, Spain vs Chile. Somebody wanted to know the officers’ favorite snacks! Answer:”Poutine! Mission Canada! How could you NOT like Poutine? I like sautéed mushrooms on mine” and “timbits.” No, timbits are not/not doughnut holes!
Here are some of the Qs asked and answered:
Q: What’s the actual intention for visa interview? I mean it hardly last for not even a minute.
Nausher: Visa interviews do usually last a few minutes because the consular officers are well-trained in quickly determining whether or not the applicant is eligible for a visa. Once they’ve determined that, there’s no reason to continue the interview. Here in Toronto we interview more than 500 people a day.
Q: Questions: How can a person aged 18-19 get an internship with an office like this? Sounds interesting for the experience and Can you explain what you guys/gals do there all day?
Nausher: we actually have an intern program for both American interns and Canadian residents. Most US Embassies and Consulates have a page that talks about their internship program, including ours. And here’s the link. The work depends on what section the internship is in. But typically a lot of interns will get to experience a lot of variety during their internship because a lot of what we do varies from day to day. For example, today we’re conducting an “Ask me Anything.”
Kathryn: And what we do all day depends. Every embassy has multiple sections, including political, economic, consular, public diplomacy, and management. Officers in each section do various activities to advance US interest and work together with the host country towards shared goals. And for our internships, it’s all over the place. We are more likely to get people from international relations, political science.
Nausher: but we are always looking for different backgrounds. Most of our interns are local kids – we have 4 Canadian interns across 3 separate units. We are just looking for enthusiasm and interest in working at a diplomatic mission.
Q: I heard law of land does not apply inside the embassy. Is that true?
Nausher: It’s very complicated and really a question for a lawyer, but we are still on Canadian territory, but consulates and embassies are guaranteed certain immunities and protections under the relevant Vienna Conventions.
Q: If you were a character in George R R Martin’s books, what house would you choose to belong to, and why?
Kathryn: I feel like in Canada, it has to be House Stark! Winter is always coming! This is specific to Mission Canada. Here in Mission Canada we would be House Stark.
Q: What’s your opinion on Mayor Ford?
Nausher: Mayor Ford has gotten a lot of attention here and internationally. But as foreign diplomats in Canada, it’s not our role to comment on domestic politicians.
* * *
- Eritrea consulate still extorting ‘diaspora tax’ in Canada, a year after top diplomat expelled over scheme (news.nationalpost.com)
- U.S. Embassies in Canada Processing Limited Visas for Third Country Nationals This Summer (uscanadaborderlawyer.com)
- USCG Toronto: Honest Ed and Tecumseh to the Inauguration Day (diplopundit.net)