Damn. The procedure for my getting to Russia this year has become more complicated. Last year I put together all my paperwork and sent it off to Travel Document Systems. This year I have to do it in two batches.
What's changed is that this year you have to fill out an online form to get your visa, and you can't fill out the form until you have all your invitation data. So first I have to send in the paperwork for the invitation. When I get that back, then I can fill in the online visa app, and then send in the rest of my documents.
I wanted to fax my info into TravelDocs, but the other day they told me the fax wasn't working. So I waited a couple days, and called again. Today they told me they don't have a fax. Now that is just plain ridiculous. What business doesn't have a fax? What they really mean is they don't want me to fax the forms. They prefer me to FedEx it, which of course cost $33. And then I'll have to FedEx in the other batch of docs. Irritating.
That said, I more than willing to work with TravelDocs. They pulled through for all of us last year, although it was hair-raising toward the end; hair-raising is normal for dealing with Russia, so that doesn't upset me at all. I don't envy them having to deal with the Russian consulates and embassies.