A sponsor is an organisation that has been approved by the Home Office to sponsor migrant workers to come to the UK to work within a listed occupation role.
The Home Office require organisations looking to become sponsors to allocate ‘management’ roles. The individuals who are assigned to these roles will need to manage the licence (for example, the validity of the licence and the obtaining of certificate of sponsorship allocations) and to ensure that the organisation remains compliant with their sponsorship licence duties and reporting obligations. This blog looks into the three key personnel required for a sponsor licence.
Existing members of staff will need to be nominated to these roles.
The Authorising Officer
A senior and competent individual within the organisation who is responsible for the actions of all members of staff and any representatives using the Sponsor Management System (the “SMS”) should usually be nominated as the Authorising Officer. Thereare various UKVI requirements for the individual nominated to this role, including:
- They should be the most senior person within the organisation that is responsible for the recruitment of all migrant workers and ensuring that all of your sponsor duties are met;
- They must be a paid member of staff;
- They must be permanently based in the UK (except where you are applying overseas for a UK Expansion Worker sponsor licence and the Authorising Officer is applying for entry clearance based on the UK expansion of your business);
- They must not have any unspent criminal convictions for a relevant offence, nor a history of non-compliance with sponsor requirements;
- They must not be guilty of any previous immigration violations;
- They must not have been a key personnel with a sponsor that had its licence revoked in the last 12 months;
- They must not have been fined by the UKVI in the past 12 months;
- They must not have been reported to the UKVI for non-compliance;
- They must not be legally prohibited from being a company director;
- They must not be subject to a bankruptcy or debt relief restriction order or undertaking; and
- They must not have failed to pay VAT or any other exercise duty.
You must have an Authorising Officer at all times for the duration of the sponsor licence. Their duties will include monitoring migrant workers, keeping records (such as the right-to- work checks) and reporting any relevant changes in respect of workers, key personnel and the organisation. They will also be the key contact between the organisation and the UKVI.
They will be granted access to the SMS, which is an online portal in which the organisation’s licence is managed and the UKVI have full sight of.
Level 1 users
These individuals will be the people who manage the usual immigration work. To be the initial nominated Level 1 user, you must:
- Be a settled person in the UK or a British citizen;
- Be fully able and competent to use the SMS;
- Be a permanent paid member of staff, or engaged as an office-holder for the organisation;
- Be based in the UK;
- Not have any relevant unspent criminal convictions;
- Not have a history of immigration-related offences (similar to the Authorising Officer); and
- Not have committed any offence of relevance to their sponsorship duties.
They will have full access to the SMS (similar to the Authorising Officer) and will be able to carry out the following:
- Assigning Certificates of Sponsorship;
- Reporting activity of migrant workers to the UKVI;
- Reporting minor change of circumstances to notify the UKVI;
- View information about the licence; and
- Renewing the licence.
You must, at all times, have an active Level 1 user who is an employee of the organisation (i.e. a director or partner), but once the sponsor licence has been granted, you may wish to appoint more Level 1 users. Often organisations choose to appoint their legal representatives as Level 1 users to ensure that they can carry out the immigration work on their behalf. At Gherson Solicitors we offer this service to our clients to ease the burden of the number of administrative activities involved.
Level 2 users
A Level 2 user has less responsibility than a Level 1 user and, subsequently, has fewer permissions on the SMS. Organisations can appoint as many Level 2 users as they need once the licence has been granted. They are, however, restricted to the following activities on the SMS:
- Creating and assigning Certificates of Sponsorships; and
- Reporting migrant worker activity to the UKVI (in respect of the certificates that they personally created and assigned – not other key personnel on the licence).
They cannot access general licence information or report any changes to the organisation.
Things to note
You can change your key personnel throughout the duration that the organisation holds a licence, but it is important that they are promptly replaced, as there must always be at least 1 of each of the key personnel mentioned above. The change to key personnel is reported through the SMS, which the UKVI should action within 18 weeks of the date of request, unless it is eligible for priority processing. A failure to report the change in key personnel and keep the SMS up-to-date can result in enforcement action, but if you fail to meet your key personnel duties as a sponsor licence holder, you could be subject to compliance action.
How Gherson can assist
Gherson’s Immigration Team are highly experienced in advising on UK visa matters. If you have any questions arising from this blog, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, send us an e-mail, or, alternatively, follow us on X, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.