edmirer saidThanks for the replies, guys. I had a feeling that the US process may be just as bad. It's always seem rather ambiguous to me. The difference is the US processes a lot more immigrants than Australia, so the hold-up is at least somewhat understandable. Anyway, not much the little guys like me can do.
Don't make excuses for the U.S. - it has nothing to do with the volume of people trying to legally
enter. What Realifedad wrote is much closer to the truth.
The way it's setup here in the USA, only ONE person has the authority to grant / deny a visa, and that is the visa officer at the U.S. embassy that interviews the poor soul who is trying to come to the USA legally.
The visa officers can (and do) torment people by placing them in "Administrative Processing" which is supposed to mean that the applicant's name is being run against computerized terrorist watch lists. Now, how long could that possibly take? There are hundreds of thousands of applicants who have been waiting several years
because they are stuck in Administrative Processing.
What Administrative Processing really is used for is when an applicant clearly does meet all the requirements for getting a visa, but the visa officer simply doesn't want to grant the visa. So the applicant is placed in Administrative Processing and it becomes a game of "running out the clock" (many visas require prior USCIS approval and that approval is usually for only 2 or 3 years). Once the USCIS approval "end date" has been reached, the visa officer will miraculously "approve" the visa!
I have no idea what it's like for Australia, but what truly sucks with the USA system is that the visa officer will absolutely NOT reply back to you if you email the embassy a request for a status update. NOBODY at the embassy replies back to you. And the embassy staff is even above members of Congress when it comes to being untouchable. Your Senator can do NOTHING to get information on your specific case.