So it seems the best way out of my employment tangle is to become a contractor and do contract work for my US employer (see previous question if you are curious of the whole backstory).

I don't think I can become a contractor in NZ with a Work Exchange visa (though I would love to be wrong about this). I am not looking to become a permanent resident, so I don't think the Skilled Migrant visa is for me either.

What should I apply for?

  • Did you figure this out?
    – Dronz
    Dec 22 '15 at 3:52
  • @Dronz No, I ended up working for a contracting company who then contracted me back to my employer. It's all very stupid and complicated, honestly, and unnecessarily so. But that's the world we live in. I'm on a Work Exchange visa.
    – Nathan
    Dec 22 '15 at 8:08
  • Thanks for saying. I agree it seems like an awful system. So, you found an existing NZ contracting company. Do you or your client now end up paying double tax?
    – Dronz
    Dec 22 '15 at 17:50
  • @Dronz I'll find out soon; I haven't filed taxes yet this year. But I don't think so -- NZ and the US have some sort of agreement on that regard I believe.
    – Nathan
    Dec 22 '15 at 21:22
  • I hope you update when you find out. I hope the answer is good news!
    – Dronz
    Dec 22 '15 at 21:43

Immigration New Zealand has a page titled Requirements for working temporarily in New Zealand which describes all the different categories under which you can apply for a work visa. Some of these are fairly specific (eg. "tour guide" or "Thai chef"), however I don't see a category that might apply to your intent to live in New Zealand and work as an independent contractor for an overseas company.

There is a Quick check page which summarises the categories (in a way that looks like a flowchart but isn't).

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