Setting up and maintaining your sponsor licence

The Sponsorship Management System (SMS) is an online portal where you can carry out most of the activities associated with being a sponsor.

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Regardless of whether you are applying for a Skilled Worker licence or an Intra-Company licence, as part of your sponsor application you must assign key roles to people in your organisation who will organise and maintain the sponsor licence on the SMS. You can assign these roles to a single person or to a combination of different people. The roles include:

  • Authorising officer
  • Key contact
  • Level 1 user
  • Level 2 user

Authorising officer

Your authorising officer must be an employee or 'office holder' (which is defined in the guidance) of the company and should be the most senior person with authority to hire migrant staff. While they are responsible for sponsor licences, they do not necessarily carry out the day-to-day activities unless they are also a Level 1 user.

Key contact

This person normally acts as the key contact between yourselves and the Home Office.

Level 1 and 2 users

Level 1 and level 2 users undertake the day-to-day activities, including organising and maintaining the sponsorship licence. They are responsible for, among other tasks, assigning and withdrawing Certificates of Sponsorship to employees.

Depending on the size of your organisation, you may require a level 2 user. Their access is restricted, while level 1 users have full access. You must have a least one level 1 user who is a 'Settled Worker' (which is defined in the Sponsor Guidance).

You must appoint an employee of the company as your level 1 user when applying for your licence. After your licence is granted you can appoint additional level 1 users, including external representatives, but you must have at least one employee as a level 1 user at all times.

Sponsors duties

As a licensed Sponsor you’ll have a variety of duties. Failure to meet your responsibilities can lead to your sponsorship licence being revoked, downgraded to a B-rating, your CoS allocation being reduced or financial penalties.

If your sponsor licence is revoked, then it will impact your ability to employ any overseas (migrant) workers in the future. Failure to carry out duties leading to employing someone illegally can result in a civil penalty/ fine of up to £20,000 per worker.

Duties include:

  • Record keeping: at all times you must keep a photocopy or electronic copy of the relevant page of each sponsored migrant's passport or Biometric Residence Permit and contact details. Full details of what documents you must retain for each migrant worker can be found in Appendix D. You must be ready to provide this information to the Home Office upon request.
  • Reporting: using the SMS, you must report within 10 working days if a sponsored migrant does not turn up on their first day of work, if their contract is terminated early, if they are absent from work for more than 10 days without your permission, or if there are significant changes in their contract of employment such as a promotion or a change in core duties. Full details of the events you must report in relation to your sponsored workers can be found in the Sponsor Duties and Compliance Guidance.
  • Ensuring compliance with the law: Both UK wider law and immigration law (for example you must only assign Certificates of Sponsorship to migrants you believe will meet the requirements of the category you are assigning it to).
  • Not engaging in behaviour which is not conducive to the public good.

Full details of the Compliance obligations are in the Guidance.

Sponsor Licence Extension

Your Sponsor licence will be in place for an initial period of 4 years (subject to no action being taken against you by UKVI in relation to your sponsor duties), after which you will be able to extend your licence for a further period.