Nicola Tiffen


I am a specialist immigration lawyer, with over 20 years of experience.  I lead Duncan Cotterill’s national immigration team across our five offices. I provide practical guidance to employers, business owners and HR professionals to support migrants with their visas in a seamless manner and obtaining immigration accreditation for employers. I also assist high net worth individuals and those seeking to enter New Zealand under the Investor, Entrepreneur and Partnership categories. Prior to returning to New Zealand, I worked at a top law firm in London for over eight years, advising a range of international corporates, high net worth individuals, and leading sportspeople in respect of UK immigration.

With strengths in all areas of immigration law, I pride myself on the ability to provide an end-to-end service for my clients. From initial eligibility scoping, and visa applications, through to confirmed residency, I give tailored advice at every step of the process. My business clients benefit from Duncan Cotterill’s commercial expertise, leading to successful setup, structuring, and operating platforms of their New Zealand based companies.

My experience includes:

  • Obtaining the new (compulsory) accreditation for both large and small NZ employers, including several in the medical industry and also businesses operating as labour hire entities which faced hurdles.
  • Acting for an international car manufacturer in transferring employees to New Zealand to support their New Zealand operations.
  • Acting for one of New Zealand’s largest employers to restructure their employer accreditation so as to allow all its legal entities to sponsor migrants.
  • Successfully assisting several New Zealand employers in transferring employees to overseas operations.
  • Successfully assisting employers in transferring employees’ visas to new legal entities.
  • Advising a multinational in the establishment and management of its New Zealand immigration policies and procedures.
  • Assisting an IT industry multinational, establishing its first base in New Zealand, with the transfer of senior and junior employees to establish the operation, right through to obtaining accreditation with the authorities to enable future transfer of staff.
  • Successfully advising a national employer in managing, and ultimately avoiding, prosecution over alleged immigration offences.
  • Successfully assisting employers and employees with border-closure exemption requests, resolving character issues and appeals to the Immigration & Protection Tribunal.
  • Seeking and obtaining Ministerial “special directions” for exceptional cases, involving humanitarian circumstances.

I am regularly called upon to give training and seminars to business leaders and employees alike and recently presented at the annual American Immigration Lawyers Association Global Migration Forum 2022 where I was asked to represent New Zealand in a panel discussion around immigration.

I am recognised as a recommended lawyer in the Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2023 legal directory and am listed for Corporate Immigration in Who's Who Legal's 2023 research. I hold memberships with the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association, am a board member of the British New Zealand Business Association, the Chair of New Zealand Association For Migration and Investment, as well as various other immigration law networks.