So about the Buffalo trip...
I arrived in Buffalo on Monday afternoon. Checked into the hotel (The Millenium, near the airport...adjacent to the Galleria, good eats nearby. Decent hotel, would stay there again). I had my GPS stolen recently, so I had a pile of printed maps ready to go. I didn't want to get lost, and really had no idea how traffic would be on Tuesday morning. So after a very restless sleep, I was up at 4am, preparing to check out of the hotel and get ready to go. From the hotel, it was a 15 minute drive to the HSBC Center. Traffic wasn't much of an issue...a little thick on I-90/190 but at 6am on a Tuesday, it's very manageable. Parking was no issue - the lot across the road opens at 6am and it's early-bird parking for $5.50. Here's a link to show you where it is:http://www.allproparking.com/app.aspx?st=141015&e=lotdetail&areaID=1&lotareaid=1&lotid=150&lotisactive=True
Access to this garage is on Exchange Street, not Washington Street, as I found out. There is a tunnel that connects the parking garage to the HSBC Center. I walked in the building at 6:25am and found myself in the main lobby through the first set of main doors that you see. The guard told me to wait by the escalator, since the Visa office doesn't open until 7:30am (important time to note, since the website says 8:00am).
I went to Tim Hortons for a large coffee and found my way back to the escalators around 7am. As mentioned previously -- there is FREE WiFi at the Tim Hortons location, which is at the basement level. From the main lobby, go down the escalator to get to Tim Hortons. It's important to mention that you must wait at the BOTTOM of the escalators for the guard. I was the first one there, and the lineup forms rather quickly after 7am. If you're first, be sure to form the line and be at the front of it.
At 7:30am sharp, the guard comes through and whisks us up the escalator and to the main lobby desk. I got my badge, which has your visitor number on it. You are instructed to stick it on your chest, to the right or the left. I discarded the paper backing in the wastepaper basket at the main desk. The guard will give you instructions regarding the elevator. Easy enough...Floor #30 with the Canadian Flag on the elevator button. You're on your way up to the Buffalo Visa Office!
Once you're up there, you are greeted by another guard. He instructs you to turn off your cell phone, if you have one. I told him that I was there for Permanent Residence Visa, and he told me to form a line down the hall on the RIGHT. To the left of the barrier is a line for Visitor Visas. You will be lining up on the right of the barrier to go to the middle window, which is #5. Window #4 is for Visitor Visas, Window #6 is Cashier, Room #3 is an Interview Room. You are looking for Window #5 - Permanent Residency. Once you are called to the window, you are instructed to pass through your passport, copy of the PPR E-mail or letter, and your two photos -- YES, they are only looking for two photos (I brought four, just in case...the PPR stated three...but they only want two). She never asked for the letter with your height and eye color...I asked her about it, and she took it from me, advising that the information should already be on file and that it wasn't necessary. She asked me to have a seat and that I should be ready "within the hour." The guy right behind me went next, and was told the same..."within the hour."
As we sat and chatted, the room quickly filled up. The line became longer and longer. They would periodically call people up to Window #6 to make payments, or to #3 Interview Room...the line for Permanent Residence Visas getting longer and much slower as time went on.
I was the first one called with another gentleman that was 4th or 5th in line. I was at the window at 8:55am (approx. 70 minute wait from the start) and was shown my Canada Visa sticker inside my passport, which shows you the expiry date. She states that you must land in Canada on or before that date. For me, it is the expiration of my passport, as my medical expired in April. For most others, it will be the date of your medical expiry. She gives you a big white envelope with your COPR inside. She asks you to review the COPR for any errors before you leave, and that you're all set. I checked mine over thoroughly, and all of the information was correct. Off I went! You approach the guard, and he asks you to remove the visitor pass from your chest and throw it in the garbage. I was walking out of the building at 9:05am.
One thing I wanted to note. The people that showed up later and were further back in line...they were STILL in line when I was leaving. They hadn't even been up to the window yet to hand over their documents. If you don't get there early and secure your place in line at the front at the escalators, you potentially could be there for awhile!!!!
Basically a straightforward process, same as most others that have posted their experience. If there is anything specific that you are interested to know that I haven't mentioned, please feel free to reply or send a PM. It's an amazing feeling to walk out of that building with a Canadian Visa in your hands, after the effort that you put into it.