Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I can finally work in the UK

This morning my wife picked up a letter lying in front of the door. "It's your NI number".

Yeah! I can now finally work in the UK.

Non European Economic Area (EEA) students like us, are allowed to work part-time during term time, but cannot work for more than 20 hours per week (unless the work is a necessary part of the studies) except during vacation. On the other hand, the spouse and children of a student are allowed to work full time (if the study period is more than 12 months).

However in order to work legally here, you need an NI number. NI is short for National Insurance and the NI number is allocated to a person for life. Of course you can find jobs where you don't have to give your NI number but I won't recommend it. Some employers will apply for you (if they really really want you) but most of the time, they won't employ you unless you have the number.

Like most people I knew I had to have an NI number but didn't know what to do to get one. So how did I get the number?

Step 1:
I turned to the www and did a check on Google. It led me to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs website here. It tells you almost everything you need to know about the NI number.

I then followed a link from there to the Department for Work and Pensions site here, which finally led me to the Jobcentre Plus site. I found the nearest local office in Coventry and took down the number.

Step 2:
I called up the number and fixed an appointment for an interview. Yes! Before they give you the NI number, you have attend an interview.

Next day, I received a letter from the office confirming my interview date, the location and a list of documents I have to bring along.

One thing I noted is that unlike in Malaysia, the Civil servants here are extremely efficient. I wish I could say the same thing about the service quality of some of the private sector companies here.

Step 3:
I went on the appointed date and was there quite early at the Jobcentreplus office:

Coventry Cofa Court Jobcentre Plus
Cofa Court, Cheylesmore
Tel: 024 7623 2200.

A Punjabi lady interviewed me. She asked me a few questions. I showed her the documents which I had brought along:
i) Passport
ii) International driving permit
iii) Proof of residence in the UK. I took along some letters addressed to my name as I didn't have any bills.
iv) Proof that I have been actively seeking a job. This is kind of funny - like a chicken and egg thing. We need an NI number to get a job but in order to get an NI number, you must have proof that you have applied for jobs. So I brought along a couple of rejection letters (past 2 months). That was good enough.
I filled up the forms and that was it.

The money I get from a part time job should be enough for us to live comfortably but not luxuriously. If I save every penny, I might be able to pay for my PhD but iI very much doubt it. For example, the University of Warwick tuition fees for this academic year is £9150 and is expected to increase. That is almost double what the students from UK and other EU countries pay (£4975). No wonder they want to attract more non-EU students to come and study here in the UK.



k.d said...

Hey! Good for you. So kalau you kerja sapa jaga anak? Simpan duit tu..pound sterling tu.

andrew said...

Hmm...actually you don't need NI to apply for jobs. I didn't get one until months after I started my part time job.

Just tell the prospective employers that you have the right to work in the UK and show them your passport. I did just that...

Btw, NI contribution is freaking high! A huge sum of the money I earned went there, and I can't claim it back. Any idea what benefits you can get from NI? Too lazy to look for more info... lol

lainieyeoh said...


but unis and colleges relying on intl students to generate revenue is not a new thing. sucks :/

Anonymous said...

good for you. perhaps rahil and iman can get extra treat :)

i applied as student ambassador job in my college. only work once in a while. so, i can still do my curricular activities, juggle my study and get some money! (^_^)

ganbatte kudasai~~

yothemans said...

you can actually ge a job without NI number.using your temporary NI.

can claim back your NI money once in a while or when you are about to leave UK.

andrew said...

yothemans, NI contribution can be claimed back? How? Also, how to claim back once in a while?

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