A CAGAYAN DE ORO-BASED visa consultancy and education agent has expanded its business to Cebu to help Cebuanos obtain permanent residency visas in Australia through the student pathway.Noli Neri, president of Australian Link Visa Assistance Plus Inc. (Alva Plus), said the entry to Cebu has been part of the company’s plan ever since to help Filipinos expand their learning and skills potentials abroad and assist them should they decide to settle permanently in a foreign land.“We’ve been wanting to establish a presence in Cebu since we already have offices in Luzon and Mindanao. Our presence here would allow us to reach out to more Filipinos who’d want to enter Australia,” said Neri.Alva has offices in Makati City, Pampanga, Rizal, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro City, as its head office. The Cebu office is located on the fourth floor of Avon Plaza Building along Osmeña Blvd. in Cebu City.The company has been promoting Australia for Filipinos who’d want to work and eventually settle there. Since its inception in 2009, the firm has already sent over 1,000 Filipinos in Australia.Neri said the student pathway to Australia is among the easiest as it doesn’t require International English Language Testing System certification and “show money.” Student visa processing for this country may take up to four months.Neri said Australia, a country with a population of 26 million, is in need of aged care nurses and early childhood teachers, which are popular courses that Filipinos take through the student pathway. There is also an increased interest in other skilled courses such as those in culinary education and technology.Neri said Alva has over a hundred partner academic institutions.To further link Filipino students to Australian academic institutions, Alva strengthened its partnership with Southern Academy of Business and Technology (SABT) to assist Filipinos who want to pursue short-term courses in cookery and hospitality, finance and banking, and information technology.With two campuses in Australia—Sydney and Adelaide—SABT is known for having high quality, industry-focused courses that are regularly updated to reflect industry needs.Suraj Rayamajhi, regional director of SABT, said the school’s Filipino student population has been growing.He said the short travel distance between Australia and the Philippines is one of the many factors, aside from Australia being known as one of the world’s most livable countries.Rayamajhi said at present there are about 60 Filipino students taking up commercial cookery at SABT and the school is open to welcoming more Filipino students to enroll in other programs.Meanwhile, Neri said there is now a renewed interest among Filipino students to study abroad more than two years after the Covid-19 pandemic closed international borders.“With countries like Australia reopening its borders, and the resumption of face-to-face classes, we see the interest of Filipino students to study abroad picking up again,” he said.Amid tight competition in this kind of business, Neri said Alva stands out in the competition because of its already-known personal touch in rendering its service.“We were able to grow Alva through referrals. We’ve been going the extra mile ever since we started this business,” said Neri, noting that they personally send their clients to the airport for departure as one of the company’s value-added services.Besides processing student visas, Alva also caters to other visa processing services like processing the tourist visa, dependent visa, business visa, partners/spouse visa and parent/guardian visa, among others.