I've been considering moving to NZ since visiting my sister there last winter, thinking of late 2008. I'm a translator and have no wish to go and work for anyone. My wife works, but we are expecting a child next spring and she wants to take a couple of years off. I've talked to NZIS and they say it is not possible to get residency as a self-employed person, there must be a written contract with a company.

Against this, my sister knows people who moved to NZ and carried on working for the same company back in the UK on a consultant basis, although they seem vague on the details of how they did it.

Has there been a change in the rules? A friend of mine who has worked in immigration in the US speculates that the written contract rule is supposed to block people importing sweatshop workers and could be quietly waived for someone earning a reasonable living in self-employment and meeting the other requirements.

The complication is that I've been working abroad for years without any intention of returning to the UK, my wife is Russian and doesn't have UK residency, and I don't have Russian, so we really wouldn't want to be told to leave.