Christchurch: CBD – (03) 379 7690 | Ferrymead – (03) 940 2435 | Hornby – (03) 349 5111

Immigration Law

Unless you are a New Zealand citizen, you must hold a visa to be lawfully in New Zealand. The type of visa will depend on your purpose for being in the country.

Moving to New Zealand?

If you are contemplating moving to NZ, Saunders & Co immigration lawyers can advise on the visa that is right for your needs, and assist in preparing the appropriate paperwork for such a visa application. From the planning stages of your move to New Zealand, through to your obtaining citizenship, we can assist with every step of your migration journey.

Our Specialist immigration lawyers can speed up the New Zealand immigration process. We can help with business/investment visas; overcoming character or medical issues; the skilled migrant process and obtaining a visa as a skilled migrant.

Visiting NZ

If you are not from a country covered by visa waiver provisions, or you have unusual personal circumstances (such as health or character concerns, or you are travelling for something other than a holiday), you will most likely need to apply for a visitor visa. We can advise on whether an application needs to be made, and can assist in preparing and submitting this application.

Working in New Zealand

Are you planning on working in NZ? Have you been offered the opportunity to work in New Zealand? If so, you will need to apply for one of the several types of work visas that are available under New Zealand’s Immigration policy. Determining the most appropriate type of work visa requires an analysis of the job on offer and your existing experience and qualifications. We can advise you, and your employer, on this process to reduce the risk of your application being declined or made under the wrong category, resulting in a shorter visa and delaying your potential eligibility for residence.

Studying in New Zealand

Are you considering studying in NZ? Whether you are looking to undertake primary, secondary or tertiary study in New Zealand, we can assist in obtaining a New Zealand student visa for you or your children.

We can advise you on work rights, post-study work visa options, and visa options for family wishing to accompany international students to New Zealand.

Residency in New Zealand

Are you applying for residency? There are a number of avenues for obtaining residence in New Zealand, through skills, investment, or family connections. We encourage clients to pursue residency as soon as they are eligible to do so.

We can advise on your eligibility under residency NZ categories, and any complexities that may need to be addressed. We can represent and assist you through the often lengthy application process from start to finish, providing quality advice along every step of the way.

New Zealand Citizenship

Applying for citizenship NZ? As residence is no guarantee of citizenship, we can advise on your eligibility in this final step of the migration journey.

Unlawful Status

Have you recently had your visa declined? Are you currently unlawfully in New Zealand as a result, unable to lodge a new application and facing deportation?

It is still possible to request and obtain a new visa, and become lawful in New Zealand once more, if the correct steps are taken in a timely manner.

We can advise you on what options are available to you, and prepare the appropriate submissions based on your specific circumstances.

Employer Accreditation

Are you looking to recruit workers from overseas? Are you trying to assist an employee with their visa application? Are you interested in becoming an “Accredited Employer”?

We can advise on the most practical and cost effective options when looking to employ migrant workers, advise on staff and visa structures that will work for your company, and with the highest chance of success, while ensuring that all employment obligations are adhered to.

We also offer seminars for companies employing high numbers of migrant workers.

If you are interested in booking a seminar, or are in need of specific advice for your company or an employee, please contact us.

Links for further information


Follow Adele Mitchell, Saunders Immigration Lawyer

Helpful Resources:

Ask us a Question about moving to NZ? Immigration Pathways in NZ Check Your NZ Tax Position NZ Migrant Tax Traps Factsheet

How Saunders & Co can add particular value:

  • Advising on medical or character concerns that may impact on visa eligibility
  • Determining whether occupations meet the definition of “skilled employment”
  • Planning the most efficient pathway for obtaining residence status
  • Informing employers of the expectations placed on them by Immigration New Zealand
  • Assisting migrants with expired visas to legalise their status
  • Providing a complete settlement package, including assisting with the purchase of property, arranging finances, and updating your legal documentation to comply with New Zealand law
  • Advice on immigration and tax law

Get further advice from

Adele Mitchell


Direct Dial: +64 3 265 0919
Mobile: +64 021 157 0306
Office: CBD

I am an Associate in the immigration team at Saunders & Co.

I completed both a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Japanese and Political Science) at the University of Canterbury. It was during my study that I realised the practice of immigration law would provide me with a career that aligned with both my values and my interests.

Since being admitted to the bar in 2005 I have specialised in immigration law, practising at both small specialist immigration law firms and as part of specialist teams within national and mid-tier firms.

I have experience across most areas of immigration law and particularly enjoy complex matters such as appeals against deportation, appeals to the Minister, medical and character waivers and complaints to the office of the Ombudsman. I enjoy achieving good outcomes for my clients, and take pride in my empathetic and accessible approach. I also enjoy using my legal skills in my community as a trustee of the Waitakiri School board of trustees and the Marshlands Hall trust.

Since joining Saunders & Co in 2017 my practice has grown, in part to our commitment to embracing new technology and communication avenues that enable easy and timely interaction with our clients. Knowledge is power, and I revel in making the often complex area of immigration law simple and easy for our clients to understand.

Click to follow my Facebook blog on Immigration.

I specialise in the following areas:

What My Clients Say

“It’s wonderful to have you helping people to secure a place in New Zealand. I give my full support to you and your employer, Saunders & Co. You have done a terrific job in securing a visa for my new wife who was living in Thailand. Your empathy for our situation, when first denied a visa in Thailand, was appreciated so much and through your hard work and experience we were able to get her to New Zealand to be with me. I would recommend your services to anybody that has to deal with immigration to obtain entry into NZ or is struggling with criteria involving immigration. I can’t thank you enough for your hard work and efforts on Santana’s behalf.”
Tony Smith


Thanks to Adele for making my resident application successful. The response she sent to immigration was so impressive. As a franchise manager of a retail establishment, mine was a difficult case. However, with Adele’s expertise, Immigration New Zealand approved my resident visa in 6 days after her response to INZ. I highly recommend Adele.
Baljinder Singh

Buvi Karuppiah

Legal Executive

Phone: +64 3 379 7690
Mobile: +64 22 500 9959
Office: Ferrymead

I am based at our Ferrymead office where I started as a legal executive in February 2016

I have a PhD in Law from the University of Otago, along with a Masters of Law and Bachelor of Laws (with Honours) from the National University of Malaysia.  My goal is to complete study in order to cross-credit my Malaysian qualifications and be admitted to the New Zealand Bar.

I am fluent in the Malay and Tamil languages and able to communicate with people from a number of countries such as Indonesia, Singapore, Southern India, Southern Thailand, Brunei, and Sri Lanka. My cultural background and language skills are useful in immigration law and any other areas that involve migrants and their settlement process in New Zealand, such as property conveyancing, estates administration, wills, trusts, setting up businesses and companies and other commercial matters.

I am active in various projects organised by the New Zealand Society of Interpreters and Translators, including being involved in translating the Treaty of Waitangi into Malay language.

I specialise in the following areas:

Cam Derby

Immigration Executive

Direct Dial: +64 3 265 0313
Mobile: 022 105 7708
Office: CBD

I am based in the immigration team at Saunders & Co, a team focussed on providing businesses and individuals with a full range of immigration services.

My tertiary education comprises a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours from the University of Canterbury. In early 2010, I embarked upon a career with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Enterprise (formerly the Department of Labour) as a warranted immigration officer within Immigration New Zealand. While working for INZ, I became a Senior Immigration Officer and worked on almost all categories of visas, including student, work and visitor visas, as well as being an Approval in Principle Broker working directly with New Zealand employers, and with the fishing industry.

In 2013 I moved to INZ’s Border Operations where I was a Senior Border Officer, providing other Officers with guidance and advice on border immigration matters. My time with INZ gave me an understanding of the entire pathway for migrants, from their initial arrival into New Zealand right through to residence.

In 2018 I accepted the offer to join the immigration team at Saunders & Co, and this has allowed me to continue working my area of expertise.

My experience within immigration means that I have an intimate understanding of the processes migrants must follow and comply with, which I use to ensure the best result for our clients. I assist clients with all types of visa application, but my passion is in advocating for them on the more complex immigration matters such as questions of skill level, deportation liability, character issues and criminal offending, and appeals to the Immigration Protection Tribunal.

I specialise in the following area:

Jen Bensley


Direct Dial: +64 3 963 1462
Mobile: +64 27 321 4477
Office: CBD

I lead the immigration team at Saunders & Co, providing businesses and individuals with a full range of immigration services.

After completing a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Science at the University of Canterbury, I started my career in the Immigration field in early 2010, working as a warranted immigration officer in the Skilled Migrant residence team at Immigration New Zealand. While working for INZ, I gained experience in various other visa categories, including all categories of work visa, family visas and Approval in Principle applications.

In 2012 I moved to the private legal sector where I began representing clients in their varied immigration needs as well as for other private and commercial legal needs.

Deciding my passion remained with Immigration, I moved to a dedicated Immigration firm, during which time I chose to complete the Post Graduate Diploma in Immigration Advice, graduating first in my class.

I joined Saunders & Co in 2015, where my team and I assist migrants in structuring their immigration pathway from the outset, ensuring as efficient and smooth of a relocation as possible.

In addition to managing the application process for investment, business, student, work, visitor, family, and residence visas, I also advise on more complex immigration matters such as deportation liability, criminal offending, ministerial requests and advocating for individuals within the Immigration Protection Tribunal and the Courts.

Advising businesses and corporations regarding their obligations, requirements and options for maintaining a migrant workforce is also a core part of my goal to facilitate the successful immigration of skilled workers to New Zealand.

I specialise in the following areas:

What My Clients Say

“The expertise, professionalism, understanding and results provided by Jen Bensley of Saunders & Co have been absolutely outstanding. I contacted Jen outside office hours on a public holiday as I was having many issues with my residency application and was not getting the assistance /knowledge needed by my current immigration lawyer at the time. To my surprise Jen replied straightaway offering her willingness to assist my situation even though it was a public holiday. My residency application had many issues and Jen was able to overcome them all in a very short time and always kept me updated with every step. Thanks to Jen my residency application was successful and I can now plan my future in NZ. I will definitely be using Saunders in the future, if needed, as well as recommending their excellent services.”
Andrew Hannaway


“Jen, thank you so much for all your help with my residence visa. You made me feel confident and took away my worries, also helped explain each stage of the process. The personal touch is a lot nicer than feeling you’re talking to a machine. Thank you for putting up with all my questions and always being so good to reply straightaway. I appreciate all your help and would fully recommend you. Thank you once again”
Nikhil Sharma


“Saunders & Co has a great reputation for being an excellent team of lawyers. They are highly professional persons, able to deliver the best results in a timely manner. Jen Bensley was my immigration lawyer and she was able to resolve an issue that occurred. Undoubtedly, Jen’s knowledge on immigration policies is outstanding.”
Maria Korotaeva


“When my partner and I were looking to purchase our first home together, a friend suggested we get in touch with Jen Bensley and we are certainly glad that we did.
Jen was friendly, efficient and thorough. She made buying our first home, a potentially stressful time, stress free and easy. We couldn’t be happier with how everything went and we will be sure to use Jen again in the future.”
Tom Keith


“Jen Bensley was my immigration lawyer. Thanks to her I am in New Zealand with my family. We had a difficult time trying to get a visa to be with my husband for a while without success. Once, Jen took over our case it was a success. Thanks Jen.”
Christine Octaviano


“Jennifer Bensley, who helped my family with visas, was very easy to work with, had great knowledge about the immigration policy and was very easy to get in contact with. She was very professional from start to finish.”
Jag Singh

Julia Johnston

Senior Associate

Direct Dial: +64 3 963 1469
Mobile: 022 513 2160
Office: CBD

I lead the tax team at Saunders & Co, providing businesses and individuals with a full range of tax services.

After finishing top of advanced tax at the University of Canterbury in 2008, I completed my Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Accounting and Bachelor of Laws and started my career in the tax team at a large international accounting firm in 2009. I then spent some time working in a large corporate recovery team, which provided me with the commercial experience to support my tax work.

In 2012, I moved to work within a nationally recognised tax advisory law firm where I advised individuals, corporates, trusts and other professional advisors, and assisted with all areas of tax law. During this time, I assisted multiple clients through the IRD audit and dispute resolution process, as well as negotiated settlements and requests for remission with IRD. I regularly advised on the tax implications of land transactions and I also further developed my passion for migrant tax issues, advising both inbound and outbound residents on their New Zealand tax obligations.

In 2017, I moved to be a manager in the tax team with a “big 4” international accounting firm where I provided tax services to a wide range of businesses of various sizes, as well as individuals and other professional advisors. I worked on a wide range of issues including GST, land tax, and Inland Revenue risk reviews and tax audits. I was also able to focus more on my passion for migrant tax issues as the leader of the Christchurch based team.

I joined Saunders & Co in late 2018, where I assist clients and their advisors with all of their tax advisory requirements. I spend a lot of time working with our immigration team, advising migrants and employers of migrants, of their tax obligations in the complex area of international tax. I enjoy assisting new migrants and corporates to structure their affairs, and ensure they are compliant with the New Zealand tax laws, without paying more tax than they need to. This provides me with a solid background into my client’s affairs which enables me to continue to advise on the many other areas of tax laws once they are established in New Zealand. This enables my client to have continuity of care, no matter what the tax issue might be.

I pride myself in my ability to work with my client’s current advisory team when assisting with all tax work. While I can work independently, where you have an active advisor with background knowledge of your affairs it is my preference to work with them. I strongly believe that a collaborative approach between advisor and tax specialist can lead to a quicker and more favourable outcome.

Click to follow my Facebook

I  specialise in the following areas:

What My Clients Say

“Julia Johnston has been great to deal with. She was very professional and explained everything clearly – both in person and via email.” Oct 2019

Catherine and Josh

“Julia Johnston’s empathy for our situation, coupled with her sound subject knowledge and passion for what she does, was priceless… this made all the difference to us.” Dec 2019

Janice Wickes

“Julia Johnston, thanks, I really appreciate everything you have done for me. I don’t believe I would be trading today without you.” Sep 2019

Name withheld for commercial reasons

Julia Lang


Direct dial: +64 3 966 7705
Mobile: 022 092 3454
Office: CBD

I am a lawyer at Saunders & Co specialising in immigration law.

I first worked with Saunders and Co as a summer clerk between 2016 and 2017 while completing my Bachelor of Laws at the University of Canterbury. After graduating, and having developed an interest in immigration law while studying, I joined the immigration team in early 2018 and was admitted to the bar later that year.

I assist clients to obtain a full range of visas; business, student, work, visitor, family, and residence visas. My particular interest lies in assisting clients applying on the basis of partnership. I also advocate for clients when concerns or issues are raised during the processing of their application.

I specialise in the following areas:


CBD: 131 Victoria Street, Christchurch, NZ

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