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Important update on Home Office sponsor licence compliance activities

03 May 2022

The Home Office has recently launched an initiative for contacting work route sponsors where their records indicate that sponsor licence system (SMS) users have not accessed the system for 12 months. To minimise the risk of potential compliance action, sponsors should take the opportunity to review their key personnel details and how they manage reporting on their sponsor licence.

Some initial contact attempts have been made from the Home Office Sponsor Assurance and Investigations Team to the Authorising Officer (AO) by telephone, with follow-up email correspondence sent where telephone contact has not been successful. The email identifies named Level 1 users who have not accessed the SMS for more than 12 months and requests that any amendments to the contact details of key personnel are reviewed, and, if applicable, amended within 10 working days.

Although some contacts appear to have been made to regular SMS users, which suggests the records the Home Office is working from may not be up-to-date, the activity serves as a reminder of the duties that sponsors have regarding maintaining the details of key personnel, and ensuring that the sponsor licence details and activities are reviewed regularly.

The AO does not have access to the SMS by default, however the Home Office recommends that they check the certificates of sponsorship (CoS) assigned to workers at least monthly. We would therefore suggest that the AO either also has access to the SMS as a Level 1 user, or that they ensure a Level 1 user provides them with a CoS summary on a monthly basis.

One advantage of the AO having direct access to the SMS is that they will also be able to review the sponsor licence summary and arrange for any necessary updates to be made. A monthly review is ideal so that any changes to sponsor circumstances can be made within the required timeframes. Most sponsor change of circumstances notifications need to be made within 20 working days, but some must be made within 10 working days. If the AO is aware of an upcoming change that will need to be notified to the Home Office, appropriate reminders could be diarised to ensure the notification is made on time.

Whether or not a contact has been received, we would suggest that sponsors consider taking the following actions:

  • Reviewing the details of the AO, Key Contact, Representative, Level 1 users and Level 2 users and:
  • Making any necessary updates to the details of key personnel;
  • Deactivating/replacing key personnel as appropriate; and
  • Generally reviewing the number and mix of Level 1 and Level 2 users and adjusting accordingy;
  • Reviewing any messages in the SMS and taking any actions required;
  • Setting up or checking a reminder system for the AO to review assigned CoS on a monthly basis, in line with Home Office recommendation; and
  • Setting up or checking a reminder system for Level 1 and Level 2 users to access the SMS on a monthly basis, in line with Home Office recommendation.

If you have queries about making any necessary changes or would like a more detailed review of your sponsor licence arrangements, please contact a member of our Immigration Team.

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