Immigration Compliance - Are you adhering to the terms of your sponsorship?

As a sponsor of overseas staff or volunteers, allocating ‘key personnel’ is one of your responsibilities as a sponsor with a valid licence. The key personnel are your Authorising Officer, Key Contact and Level 1 user.

The Authorising Officer should be the person with overall responsibility for recruiting and employing staff within your organisation. This may be the Chief Executive of a charity or, for example, the Mother Superior in a Convent. The Key Contact is the person who is the main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Finally the Level 1 user is the person responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the Sponsor Management System (SMS). The management of your licence is all conducted through the SMS and therefore it is essential that the key personnel are able and competent to use IT.

Case Study

Recently, Stone King assisted an organisation where a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) had been allocated. The Authorising Officer, who was also the Level 1 user, was unfortunately incapacitated and unable to access the SMS. The SMS log in details had however been passed to a friend of the charity. The friend was IT literate and able to navigate around the SMS without too much trouble. The friend therefore issued a CoS to support an overseas worker coming into the UK.

The organisation was not aware that it had breached its licence agreement. Allowing another person to log in to the SMS under your personal details is a breach of the agreement. Further, the failure of the Level 1 user to access the SMS regularly was a further breach. The Authorising Officer had also failed in not supervising, or being aware, of the issue of the CoS. Our advice in this instance was to appoint another Level 1 user to protect the organisation and the licence.

Level 1 users

The level 1 user is the person with access to the SMS. They are responsible for the day to day running of the SMS including all administrative actions, as well as being responsible for applying for and assigning CoS and renewing the organisation’s licence to sponsor.

As a Sponsor you must have one or more Level 1 user. At least one of your Level 1 users must be an employee. The other Level 1 user can be a UK-based representative. You can appoint as many Level 1 users as you feel is necessary. As the Authorising Officer is responsible for the actions of all SMS users, it is advisable to keep the number of Level 1 users to the minimum necessary to ensure the effective maintenance of your licence.

At least one of your Level 1 users must be a settled worker, although there are some exceptions to this. It is also possible to appoint Level 2 users, although they are not obligatory key personnel. Level 2 users have less responsibility and permissions than Level 1 users. Level 2 users can assign CoS to workers and report worker activity. You can appoint as many Level 2 users as you need.

How to add Level 1 and Level 2 users

It is possible to add further Level 1 users and Level 2 users by accessing your SMS. We can guide you through this process.

A Legal Representative as a Level 1 user

The SMS allows for Legal Representatives to act as Level 1 users. Stone King is able to act as your Level 1 user. With a specialist immigration team, this means that our solicitors are able to review your messages and information posted on SMS and update you if needed. Our team can add or remove Level 1 and/ or 2 users. This means that you will not be caught out if your Level 1 user is unable to access the SMS for any reason.

A Legal Representative as a Level 1 user can also apply for a restricted CoS and request an increase to the number of unrestricted Tier 2 CoS that you as a sponsor can assign each year. We can assign restricted or unrestricted CoS, withdraw a CoS and report any activity that needs to be advised to the UKVI.

The law and practice referred to in this article has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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