Many organisations are now registered with the Home Office for a licence to sponsor migrant workers. It is important that Key Personnel assigned to the sponsor licence are familiar with the duties and responsibilities associated with sponsorship.
Registered sponsors must have employees or directors to fill 2 key personnel roles, the authorising officer (AO) and Level 1 user. The AO role does not have automatic access to the SMS, however, the Level 1 is required to access the Home Office portal – sponsorship management system (SMS) regularly. The Home Office guidance suggests regularly to be ‘at least once a month’.
The purpose of accessing the SMS regularly is to ensure all mandatory changes to sponsored workers circumstances, Key Personnel contact details or organisational changes are reported within the relevant reporting timescales which are either within 10 or 20 working days of the change occurring. Note that failing to report a relevant change such as contact details for Key Personnel assigned to the licence could result in action against the sponsor.
The SMS platform is also being used as a communication board to share messages that relate to sponsors generally, so if your Level 1 user is not checking the SMS regularly you could be missing out on important information about sponsorship or even be in breach of your sponsor duties.
The Home Office are obviously undertaking a clean-up exercise, as numerous practitioners are reporting telephone contact and emails from the Home Office in relation to access to the SMS. We believe this has been delegated to a third party which is why there may be some inaccuracies in the interpretation of the data.
FSP have reports from sponsors who received emails from the Home Office which appear to be inaccurate, claiming that users have failed to access their SMS in the past 12 months. We are working closely with our clients to ensure they remain complaint with their sponsor duties and all key personnel information is kept up to date.
We recommend that your Level 1 user access the SMS to carry out an audit ensuring all Key Personnel details are up to date, check the organisation address, any offices where sponsored employee’s work is still valid and remove any out-of-date information. Ensure that the Level 1 user diarises time to access the SMS regularly, perhaps once a month. If your Level 1 user has left the organisation and you no longer have access to the SMS, you can make a manual change request which can take up to 18 weeks to be approved. We recommend that you seek legal advice if you don’t have access to your SMS.
How FSP can help
We offer an annual administration retainer service which will help you to remain compliant with your sponsor duties.
- facilitate the registration of one of our solicitors to be a level 1 user on your licence
- facilitate access to the SMS at least once a year via video conference
- undertake a review of your licence to ensure compliance initially and each year of your licence until expiry
- provide checklists of your sponsor duties
- provide training to your existing Level 1 users to navigate the SMS
- diarise key dates and reminders for your licence expiry
- prepare and submit your annual Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) renewal for each year of your licence validity
We will also report changes, request defined CoS or assign CoS for a range of fixed fees.
FSP can advise you on all aspects of inbound immigration routes to the UK, including skilled worker visa and global mobility visas. We will keep you up to date with the latest developments as they are released from the Home Office. Though website updates, articles, webinar and legal updates.
If you require our assistance, please contact the immigration team at: [email protected].