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Changes to SMS updating requirements for employers

29 June 2023

The Home Office has confirmed that Key Personnel on sponsor licences will be asked to provide their national insurance number, and also that (contrary to sponsor guidance that was updated in March 2023) sponsors are not required to report hybrid working arrangements for their sponsored workers.

Sponsors should make staff with responsibility for administering their sponsor licence aware of these changes.

Requirement for Key Personnel to provide their national insurance number

The Home Office has recently placed a notification on the Sponsor Management System (SMS) confirming that:

  • From 19 June 2023, new Level 1 Users being added to a sponsor licence must provide their National Insurance Number (NINO) or confirmation they have applied for one, or a reason why they are exempt from holding one.
  • From the same date, existing Level 1 Users will be asked to provide their NINO or reason for exemption if they are otherwise amending their personal details on the SMS.
  • A Level 1 User who does not have a NINO may be asked to provide evidence that they have applied for one (and it would seem likely that they may also be asked to provide evidence of exemption if claimed).
  • Failure to supply a NINO, or failing to provide a valid exemption reason or confirmation that a NINO has been applied for may affect the outcome of the individual’s request to be added as a Level 1 User or to update their details.

The SMS notification also confirms that a similar process will be implemented later this year for Authorising Officers and Key Contacts.

Existing Level 1 Users, Authorising Officers and Key Contacts may choose to proactively update the SMS with details regarding their NINO. However, they are not required to provide NINO-related information unless another update is required.

NINO updates will be made in the SMS automatically unless there are other changes to details that are not eligible for automatic update.

An updated version of SMS guide 1: Introduction to the sponsorship management system was also published on 22 June 2023 confirming the new requirements for Level 1 Users.

Withdrawal of requirement for sponsors to report hybrid working for sponsored workers

Following on from the implementation of new SMS reporting requirements regarding hybrid and remote working on 31 March 2023, which we commented on here, the Home Office has confirmed informally to immigration advisers that hybrid working is accepted as being the new norm post-pandemic, and that it is sufficient for sponsors simply to maintain records of their hybrid working arrangement rather than reporting these on the SMS.

The Home Office has also confirmed an intention to update the sponsor guidance at a later date to remove this reporting requirement.

The informal guidance received from the Home Office does not withdraw the requirement to report working remotely from home on a permanent or full-time basis (with little/no requirement to physically attend a workplace). Unless the guidance is updated to the contrary, sponsors should continue to report this.

If you have questions about these developments, please get in touch with a member of our Immigration Team.

Related items

Migrant Workers Sponsorship

Further changes to SMS updating requirements for employers

17 October 2023

The Home Office has announced two important changes that impact employers who hold a licence to sponsor overseas workers. Authorising Officers and Key Contacts on sponsor licences will be asked to provide their national insurance number. Sponsors registered with Companies House will be asked to provide their Companies House reference number.

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