I need some clarification and advice on obtaining a Russian Tourist Visa as a US Citizen, in the US.
I know there is a lot of information on this, but because there are so many sources of varying quality, from various dates, it's a bit confusing as to what I should be doing and what is needed. For one, I do not live near any of the main consulates in the US, and apparently everyone "has to" (according to the San Francisco consulate) apply via ILS.
ILS sounds great, but I'd have to use their mail service, which seems to be:
- Fill out the application form yourself at https://visa.kdmid.ru
- Mail us your passport and application etc
- We'll mail you your visa and passport
Yet, this seems contrary to their mission of claiming to make it easy for you. How is this different from dealing with a consulate directly? Doesn't this also cost more?
Should I be (must I?) use ILS to apply? Has anyone used their mail service before? Is there really no other way than to mail? There's no fully-online method? They even make you pay with a money-order/cashier's check.
Also, there are a number of sites that offer Visa Support Letters for some fee. Does anyone have a recommendation for any of these? Many of them seem a bit sketchy. The invitation host is responsible, in part, for you, after all.
If I get a support letter from one of these services, does it matter where I stay? (I plan to stay in a hostel)
Edit: Forgot to ask the following (in regards to visa support): Consulates now "recommend" US citizens get the full 3-year, multi-entry visa. This sounds good to me, but I've noticed that Visa Support sites seem to only provide single and double-entry support letters.
Can I choose either of these, put a 3-year span on the dates, then tell ILS I want the 3-year multi-entry Visa?