From Pakistan to Perth, why the founder of VSA is passionate about his role
Visa Solutions Australia (VSA) prides itself on the quality and service it offers to people seeking to migrate to Australia. All the staff at VSA are migrants themselves including its Managing Director and Founder Dan Engles.
Prior to entering the migration industry Dan was an economist for 14 years with the Federal Treasury and the Chamber of Commerce (WA). He shares a very similar surname to another, more famous, economist the German Ernst Engel who came up with the Engel’s curve!
Dan’s railway journey in Australia
Dan was born in Lahore in Pakistan, but came to Australia in 1966 when he was just two. His father was a “runner” for a company which was building a railway line in Pakistan. Dan remembers his father fondly;
“He really was a hard worker with not much education; they’d ask him to go and get this and get that and he was always extremely conscientious and polite. So, when his company MKMO won a contract to build an iron ore railway line in West Australia, they told him he could have a job if he made the journey himself. “
Dan’s father sold everything, found a sponsor who said he was of good character, flew to Sydney with a wife and two children and then drove across the Nullarbor to Perth and then Port Hedland.
As Dan says “In my early years, I lived in a caravan next to the section of the railway line they were building. When that section of the railway was done, I’d move along up the route.”
The essence of Visa Solutions Australia
After graduating from university Dan enjoyed a high-profile career as an economist but he left a good post at the Federal Treasury in Canberra and decided to move to Perth so that his children could be closer to their grandparents. He took up a role with the CCI (WA) which then presented him with the opportunity to establish his first immigration business – supplying skilled workers for employers around Australia.
VSA was initially established in 2004 and then rebranded and relaunched in 2015. He’s proud of what he has achieved in a relatively short time, particularly in a slow economy.
“The difference with Visa Solutions Australia is that if we say something, we will do it, we will follow it through to the nth degree. Between us, our team has lots of experience. We want to establish and build long term relationships as repeat business speaks volumes for the high standard of service we offer.”
Different times, different visas
Dan explains that like any business there are good times and bad times depending very much on the economic climate.
“Here at VSA we have to react to the current economic climate. We have peaks and troughs and sometimes we must reinvent ourselves. Within the migration industry, most of the past ten years has been about the resources boom and bringing in foreign workers on 457’s. For the ten years prior to that it was business migrants so it was people who had capital and wanted to start businesses but then the Department of Immigration changed the rules and that market slowed down in 2002.”
He has seen different trends over the years with Australian companies wanting to source labour from different countries. South Africa was quite popular and more recently it’s been the Philippines.
“We now have Miguel, our full-time employee, working for VSA in the Philippines and there’s still high demand from people there wanting to move to Australia.”
The clients Dan will never forget
In 2016 there’s a mix of clients that make up VSA’s workload, with people wanting student visas, partner sponsorship, family and employer sponsored and 457 visas. Dan enjoys this variety.
“I love this job because we’re here to solve problems. I never know from one day to the next what will happen. Someone may ring up and say they’re here unlawfully and ask VSA to help them out. I remember a gentleman contacted us who was in his seventies, his visa had expired 22 years ago and he was unlawfully in Australia. VSA managed to get him permanent residency – that was a terrific result”.
Dan also recalls an Italian family who were on a temporary visa who were desperate to make their stay in Australia permanent.
“This Italian family opened up a Gelato ice-cream shop in the South West of the State. There were five of them in this family and they were always busy during the summer months but were quieter in the winter. They’d seen five or six migration agents around Perth but were struggling to get their permanent residence. We found a way of helping them as we discovered their father had been out here in the 1950’s got citizenship and then went back to Italy, something they hadn’t realised! That was the missing piece of the puzzle which we needed. We got the entire family citizenship by descent! That’s a case I shall always remember.”
What’s the future for VSA?
The VSA business will continue to do well with new technology making the process a lot easier for his clients.
“It’s all gone digital now and the world is shrinking, gone are the days when you need to see people in person. Skype and VoIP has made a big difference and we have agents in other countries. I had an interview recently with a CEO for a South African company looking for skilled staff overseas. Everything’s been done over video conferencing platforms, that’s the future. I see us expanding and going from strength to strength as there will always be a demand for people wanting to come to Australia. It’s a great country and I’m glad to call it my home.”
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