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Quest for NI Number, part 3

Come early or risk losing your interview slot! The warnings were multiple, from the initial NI phone interview to the letter they sent. So it was that I joined a small crowd of other people waiting for the National Insurance Interview Centre on Camden High Street to open at 8:40 this morning. Because, you see, the building wasn't scheduled to open until 9:00, when we all had interviews - and we were all diligently early.

The process was all very mundane. At five till nine, enough staff were there to open the building. We'd formed a half-hearted queue, but it wasn't necessary. The receptionist called our names out, one by one, and we came forward when called to be told what floor of the building to go to. On the open plan second floor, the receptionist there found an available interviewer, and he sat down to process me.

The purpose of the interview isn't to decide if I should be allowed to have a NI number or not, although the interviewer does act as the main gatekeeper in that process. Instead, the interviewer is there to fill out the application form for me - and in the process, collect enough information from and about me to put up a good case for why I should be given one.

My interviewer was a pragmatic bureaucrat, skipping over sections that I technically could have filled in, but he thought would only distract from my application. (Yes, I've lived in the UK before, but not recently. Yes, I've been a student here, but not recently. Yes, I'm applying for jobs here, but that's less interesting and less convincing than the fact I've already been employed here.) I read over all he'd filled out as if in my words - including practical notes, such as how my signature has changed since I signed my passport nine-and-a-half years ago - and signed the form. He only photocopied the most relevant documentation I'd brought with me, notarized it, and sent it all over to his colleague to double-check before I left.

In under half an hour from when I'd entered the building, I was done. I have a temporary NI number, so can be paid for the Imperial job finally, and a promise to hear back from the system in four to six weeks.

Note: It's just as well I know my SSN, since it was required for the form, as an American, and I hadn't been warned to bring it along.

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
owlfish
Aug. 2nd, 2006 11:16 am (UTC)
So efficient! In fact, when skipping sections, he made comments along the lines of "Let's not get involved in this section - it's not relevant, and if we fill it out, we'll be here all day." He was all about just getting the job done and getting on with the day.

When you went for your Interview of Endlessness, was it just an office in an job centre, or a specific NI number application office? (All NI interviews, all the time.) I know you said there was extensive kerfuffle over where counted as closest to you. (In my case, or perhaps more accurately, as the current system works, I could freely choose between interview opportunities in Tooting or Camden.)
sioneva
Aug. 2nd, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC)
Huh, I don't remember having to provide my SSN. Wonder if that's changed or if the guy who interviewed me just didn't bother with it.

A bit odd that they wanted it, though, as I don't see what relevance it could possibly have to the UK government.
owlfish
Aug. 2nd, 2006 12:43 pm (UTC)
The US, like Libya and no other country on earth, requires its citizens to pay taxes no matter what their country of residence is. To encourage this to happen, and also to help avoid double-taxation, the US has treaties with lots of other countries in which those other countries will report back to the US what US citizens have earned abroad. My impression is that it's not systematic - but it's an agreement to pass on the info whenever it's asked for.

I don't know if the agreements between the US and the UK over this, or methods of implementation have changed lately. It's entirely possible. Or perhaps he just didn't bother.
a_d_medievalist
Aug. 2nd, 2006 01:15 pm (UTC)
It's also about the pensions -- there is some sort of scheme to combine retirement accounts. Oh well ... you're safe as long as you don't make more than $70k a year, IIRC!
sioneva
Aug. 4th, 2006 09:22 am (UTC)
Oh, I know the US and UK have reciprocal tax agreements - I have to file US taxes every year, despite never making enough to actually have to pay anything States-side, but I hadn't realized that it extended to actually reporting info back and forth. I'd not expected such a level of efficiency, especially since the IRS seems incapable of actually knowing what's on your American W-2 forms unless you physically put it in on your tax return!
kalivor
Aug. 30th, 2006 04:23 pm (UTC)
When I had my appointment, it was later in the day, they were running over an hour behind (come early? yeah, right), and everything smelled of bureaucratic inefficiency. My appointment was (IIRC) for 12:00, I arrived 15 minutes early, and left around 4:00.

Also, I did not have my Canadian Social Insurance Number (though nothing had been mentioned to me about it), and although the interviewer asked for it, they didn't seem to care that I didn't have it.

I too have recently received my envelope with my NINo written on a piece of paper, and told to wait further for the actual card.
owlfish
Aug. 30th, 2006 06:01 pm (UTC)
I'm glad your paperwork's come through too. It's a relief to be able to apply for jobs and not look like an anomaly for lack of NI number.

You've made me feel very lucky to have happened to have a start-of-the-day appointment - I hadn't realized how much more tedious it could have been. I hope you had a book with you or something to do.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )