I went through the same process. Yes it took longer than I would have liked, but in general it went very well.
Australia is very restrictive on immigration because so many people want to go there. I'm not really sure why they would restructure the system when this is the case, they have a relatively small population and extend a variety of state benefits to immigrants, so they don't want to be swamped.
They used to have a "White Australia" policy until late 60s. (Basically yes, we want immigration in order to populate our country, but we only want white people). Since then they have stopped having racist immigration policies, so they have just reduced all immigration.
It's all about keeping one type of immigrants out.
- moved all over the world
- applied for a visa while inside the country in question
- some expectation that having an employer vouch for him means anything
- most of his trouble with getting a COC out of Singapore
Oz basically want to know you have skills, education and no criminal record. They ask you to go to some length to prove this. I really don't see a problem with this. As I say, they are in the unusual situation that they are swamped with applicants from all over the world, they can afford to be picky, and in fact need to be.
That guy is me. My application for permanent residence in Singapore -- another place "swamped with applicants from all over the world" -- was all of three pages long but managed to cover skills, education and criminal records, was processed in a few weeks, and cost precisely $0. By comparison, my employer and I have paid approx. $10,000 to date to the Australian government in visa fees, not including the charges of the agents my employer hired to navigate the morass, despite being unusually versed in this sort of thing.
As I state at the end of the post, I'm quite well placed to deal with all this and thus personally find it mostly rather comical. However, dealing with this as eg. a refugee fleeing war or persecution is another kettle of fish, and the sheer rigidity of the system means that plenty of people fall through the cracks: a friend of mine recently had to leave the country after 10 years (!) of legal residence and entrepreneurship because his self-employment didn't fit squarely into Immigration's boxes.
My sister got the boot from Australia for 9 months even though she was young, had a master's degree in a needed occupation, was attending unimelb, and was about to be married to an Australian. Australia likes to tout its fair and transparent points based immigration scheme, but at the end of the day the decision is arbitrarily decided by an official who might not like your home country or may simply be having a bad day.
You, your employer and your agent are all having a harder time of it than me, an individual with no assistance at all, that managed to get through for about a third the cash and in far less time. I managed to navigate the system, why can't you?
Singapore is a business, not really a country, they want as many immigrants as possible. They have a stated aim to use immigration to massively increase the population. This is not the same situation as Australia at all.
And refugees don't have to apply for skilled visas, they come under other rules.
Good luck with your visa, but don't assume that everyone finds the system as hard as you seem to be.
I did navigate the system. The rules for refugees are considerably worse, DIAC's official estimate of processing time for an Offshore Humanitarian visa is several years. And you're welcome to take a gander at the comments on my blog to see how easy others are finding it!
I still don't understand why you think they should make it easier or faster for people like you (or me), when they have their pick of immigrants and many, many more applicants apply each year than there are places. At that point they can well afford to make all their checks very thorough.
I don't even live there any more so it doesn't affect me directly.
How Oz treats refugees is a subject of much debate, I was trying to say it's quite a separate issue from this one.
I thought the Singapore process for getting a Certificate of Clearance was the craziest part of his post. Getting fingerprints done should be easier, I suppose, but that isn't an indictment of Australia's Visa system, in itself.