|Subject: Re: Visas|
You asked if there is an advantage to using a visa service when you can just pay the $50 and get it done near your home in Chicago.
There is no advantage - but if you were up against a time deadline these services can often significantly speed the process since they often have contacts in many of the embassies ... and, of course, it allows you to avoid some of the hassles in going and coming to the embassies.
These companies don't make alot of their income from individuals going to one country - its where there is a group that suddenly needs documents for 4 countries and they have 1 week to get them. They are happy, of course, to work with individuals but they go so far as to post all the forms and procedures online to facilitate your doing it yourself. (check http://www.visaexchange.com for procedures and requirements for us citizens for virtually any country or dependency on earth)