Jeff and Mila Harvie. There must be a few of you wondering who these people are. Where did they come from, and why are they worth listening to and entrusting your future happiness to?
I (Jeff) grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney many years ago. This was back when Sydney seemed safe, and where a kid could catch a train after midnight and nothing would go wrong. I won’t bore you with the details of childhood or adolescence. Not sure I want to think about it myself, for that matter. But I ended up in Central QLD for a lot of years, brought two sons into the world (one of whom is our office manager Jeremy), and found myself in the mid 90’s divorced like 43% of Australian married couples. I was also single dad for 7 years raising my two sons alone. And I found myself on the dreaded dating scene. I’ll definitely spare you THOSE details.
I was working as an agricultural consultant (vegetable crops, soil management and land development mostly) in CQ when one day I got some signs painted on my car. The signwriter happened to be married to a lovely Filipina lady. They had a very cute little daughter, vegetables growing in the backyard, and she had impeccable manners and knew how to take care of guests in her house. The penny dropped. So I started looking on the net for how to contact a lady in the Philippines.
Did I do well immediately? No! Definitely not! I had a couple of dismal failures. I knew nothing about the culture, and knew nothing about how western men are often seen as fabulously wealthy sacks of money on legs! There was so little advice out there too. So yes, I know about the traps and I know that trusting and naïve men can stuff up badly. So I struggled on past my stuffups and fortunately learned something along the way and soon met Mila, who was working as an OFW in Hong Kong.
Mila was a single mum from the Bicol province, one of 9 children. She had discovered like many that she could make more money as a household helper overseas than she could as a school teacher in the Philippines. She also ended up as a single mum at precisely the same time that I was becoming a divorced man in Australia. And it was her being a single mum that made me contact her one day where she was living and working in Hong Kong, so more than mere coincidence I’m sure.
Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage Visa brought Mila to Australia, and a Subclass 445 Dependent Child Visa brought daughter Remy to Australia later. So yes, we really do know all about what you’re all going through. We know all about the separation, the stress and the worry that long distance relationships as well as immigration can cause. And we also know how much being apart makes you value what you have when that wonderful day happens and the visa is granted.
Mila spent 8 years in Australia, and Remy a few less. One day I just woke up and basically decided I was sick to death of what I was doing and wanted to do something more worthwhile. And I changed careers to Migration by studying for and qualifying as a Registered Migration Agent and founded Down Under Visa. I truly feel that what I’m doing now is my vocation. It’s my calling. And we just help couples too, those who are going through the same as what we went through. Aussies involved with Filipinas. We understand, we can empathise, and we know how much the outcome means to you. We stopped doing work visas and student visas years ago, because we don’t have our heart in that like we do with the couples. What could be better than bringing families together?
And five years ago we moved here permanently to Manila, where we set up a permanent office instead of our part-time one. We built a house, and we filled it with adopted and semi-adopted kids. This is now our home, well and truly.
Right now? Even with all due humility, I don’t think anybody else does it quite the way we do. We are an Australian Filipina couple who have gone through the immigration process ourselves, and we do nothing but Australian partner visas and Australian tourist visas for Aussie Filipino couples to Australia from the Philippines. We are here all the time where we can provide help and support to the local applicants, with easy access to the Australian Embassy and also to clients who come through Manila. And I handle every application personally. Yes, we have staff helping with administration, but they don’t manage the applications. I do. And the core management team is Jeff, Mila and Jeremy. A true family business.
Down Under Visa have a great website with free online visa assessments and excellent client support. And what’s more, we have our downundervisa.wordpress.com BLOG site, with (at the moment) around 300 articles on visas and Philippines matters. We do this to help you make informed choices. We also have the www.filipinawives.com.au site which is there purely to help with relationships between Australian men and Filipino ladies. And now we’ve sponsored a Facebook Group called “Philippines To Australia“, which is there as an opportunity to mingle with other clients.
A client said to me once “I’m an Aussie marrying a Filipina. You’re an Aussie in Manila married to a Filipina, managing visas for Australians and ladies from the Philippines to Australia. Who ELSE would I go to??”