I work for a company in the United States, but I work online remotely and can do so from anywhere.

I would like to get an IEP Work Exchange visa. I have looked into it, and it seems that I qualify. Let's assume that I do. My employer is OK with me doing whatever, so long as it won't get them in legal trouble with anyone.

Can I use the Work Exchange visa to work remotely from NZ? Is this legal? I understand that advice here is not formal legal advice, but I want to at least get a sense of what is doable before I invest in pursuing this further.

I've looked into it a bit myself, but pointers to places where I can look to find the answer out on my own are also welcome!

  • Have you asked IEP? You'll likely get a response here, but from when I used IEP (and did talks/presentations for them - this is back in 2001) they were very quick to respond and certainly know their stuff. – Mark Mayo Feb 13 '15 at 4:33
  • I also emailed them about something on this site a few months ago and got a fast response too. – Mark Mayo Feb 13 '15 at 4:36
  • I sent them an email earlier today. Have not gotten a response yet. As it is the weekend there now I may not get one for a couple of days. – Nathan Feb 13 '15 at 5:11
  • Incidentally, this may be more suited to expats.stackexchange. I've flagged it for a mod to decide, but don't crosspost - if they move it, so be it. – Mark Mayo Feb 13 '15 at 5:14

OK, so my company's legal department said no, trying to do this could get them into legal trouble.

Apparently this has to do with international tax law. Not only will I have to pay taxes in NZ as well as the US (which is fine), my employer would also have to become an official NZ employer and pay taxes.

This sounds like a bunch of terrible rubbish to me, but they assure me it is the way that it is. If anyone has any information to the contrary, I would love to hear it. Otherwise, looks like it's a no-go for me.

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    That makes sense. Why do you think its rubbish? A NZ company employing an American in the US would have to register in the relevant State, pay FICA and FUTA and provide the employee with W2. Why wouldn't it work the same in the other direction? – littleadv Feb 14 '15 at 5:45
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    Because I wouldn't be employed in NZ...I'm employed in the US, just living in NZ for a year. I wouldn't be eligible for their equivalent of Social Security, so why would my company have to pay into that? It seems like a win for NZ...a young, skilled professional is willing to come into their country, pay taxes for a year, contribute to the economy, and then leave before getting old and sick and draining the national budget. – Nathan Feb 14 '15 at 11:42
  • But but but... What do you mean you wouldn't be employed in NZ? If you live in NZ, and work in NZ - you're employed in NZ. Foreign workers in the US are not eligible for social security benefits, yet they still pay the tax - again, why wouldn't it work the same in the other direction? – littleadv Feb 14 '15 at 23:37
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    Uh, I'm not sure how to explain it any other way. It's totally reasonable for me to have to pay the tax. It's kinda crazy that my employer would have to pay a completely separate set of taxes and fees just for the privilege of having an employee living in the country. – Nathan Feb 14 '15 at 23:38
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    For the record, I think that the situation is ridiculous regardless of which country it is. If the US does the same thing, that's crazy too. (Remember, I was always OK with me paying taxes, even if I don't benefit from them. It's the additional taxes and hoops my employer would have to jump through that I have a problem with.) – Nathan Feb 14 '15 at 23:43

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