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Home Office SMS: Warnings on Inactivity

Sponsor licence holders must keep their Sponsorship Management System (SMS) records up to date or face disciplinary action. If the Home Office detects inactivity on the SMS, it will send you an e-mail warning. This needs to be fixed right away to avoid problems.

For more information about your sponsor licence or guidance using the SMS, get in touch with us today. Call Immigration Advice Service at 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.


What Is the Sponsorship Management System?

SMS is a web-based application for managing sponsorship licences. It maintains a record of each migrant worker you sponsored throughout that time.

Additionally, this is where you apply for and assign Certificates of Sponsorship (COS).

The organisation must choose key individuals with varying levels of access to the sponsor SMS as part of the application for a sponsor licence.

Check out this article to learn more about Sponsor Management Systems.

When Does the Home Office Warn the Sponsor Licence Holder?

If sponsors last logged into the SMS over 12 months ago, the Home Office compliance team typically asks them to act. Telephone, text message, and e-mail have been used to communicate the warning among Level 1 SMS users.

E-mails received from the Home Office remind sponsors to keep records up to date as a condition of their sponsor licence. Moreover, Level 1 users are instructed to access their SMS account at least once a month.

Accessing your SMS account regularly allows you to review and update your licence details on time. This will also help keep the business updated on the latest news, messages, and changes.

What Is the Content of the Email Warning?

The following information is included in the Home Office’s e-mail notice:

  • The names of the organisation’s Authorising Officer and Key Contact
  • A link to the SMS licence management manual
  • Names of Level 1 SMS users who have not logged in to SMS for more than 12 months
  • A recommendation for Level 1 Users to access the system at least once a month.
  • A ten-working-day deadline for updating the authorised level one users, if necessary

Below is a word-for-word sample content of the e-mail:

“We attempted to contact both Mr. ABC and Ms. XYZ, who are listed as the Authorising Officer and Key Contact for the above company/organisation, on the numbers XXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXX.

However, our attempt was not successful.

Please keep in mind that maintaining accurate records is a requirement of your sponsorship licence.

If you are unsure how to keep these records, please refer to the appropriate user manual at the following link: SMS Guide 2: Licensing Management

According to our records, the following Level 1 user(s) have not logged in to the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) in over a year: Mr. ABC

The following relevant paragraphs are stated:

Paragraph L10.4:

You must log in to your SMS account regularly to review and update your licence information and ensure you stay up to date on the latest news, messages, and any upcoming changes. Therefore, we recommend that your Level 1 User log in at least once a month.

Paragraph L4.31:

At least one Level 1 User must be an employee, partner, or director. If you have more than one Level 1 User, the others must be one of the following:

  • a paid employee or office holder within your organisation
  • a third-party employee hired by you to perform all or part of your HR function
  • a representative in the UK

Please ensure your current list of Level 1 Users and the contact details for your Authorising Officer and Key Contact as listed on your sponsor licence.

If any changes are required, please make them via SMS within the next ten working days.

If your organisation no longer has an authorised Level 1 User, please use the following link to complete the manual Change of Circumstances form and request the necessary changes.

What Should You Do if You Receive the Email?

Sponsors should interpret the email as a warning to track and address potential compliance violations. This will help them avoid further investigation or attention from the Home Office.

If you receive the email memo from the Home Office, act quickly to manage the current status of your licence. Here are some steps you can carry out:

  • Check your crucial personnel data. See if anyone from your assigned users has left and needs to be replaced on the system.
  • Review if all contact details are correct and up to date.
  • To notify of relevant changes, use the Change of Circumstances form.
  • Put in place a process that requires the Level 1 user to check the SMS at least once a month.

What Are the Consequences of Failing to Act Immediately?

While the e-mail does not specify the consequences of failing to act, an employer can face enforcement action if they fail to meet their compliance obligations. Under the sponsorship rules, this could include the licence being suspended or revoked.

A revoked sponsor licence means your organisation no longer has the legal right to employ sponsored workers in any sponsorship visa category. Meanwhile, a suspended licence means that sponsored workers can continue to work for you while the licence is suspended.

In such cases, it’s advisable to seek professional help. Support from our IAS team can guide you to identify necessary corrective actions. Call us today at 0333 4149244 or contact us online, so we can present your options and respond in a way that addresses the Home Office’s immediate concerns.

An example question to be examined is if there are factual errors in the stated grounds that can be challenged with evidence. Moreover, is there anything you need to do or have done to fix the problem?

Engaging with the Home Office throughout the process will be critical in demonstrating your commitment to carrying out the responsibilities entrusted to your organisation.

If you have any questions to identify necessary corrective actions, our team is happy to assist.

How can IAS Help

Immigration Advice Service has offices across the country with expert business immigration lawyers. In addition, we assist with all aspects of hiring foreign workers, including a dedicated Sponsor Licence Advice Package.

Our services include:

  • Immigration consultancy. Your lawyer will create a consultation pack for you to follow to resolve any issues and outline the proper way to keep records of your employees.
  • Immigration audit. This service examines your HR practices and interview employees to resolve any issues. This can be done before or after a UKVI visit and protects your company from any unwarranted penalties.
  • Workplace visits. As part of our business services, your lawyer can work with your staff on-site. They will ensure that everything runs smoothly and that the SMS is configured correctly.
  • Appeal support. We can provide full legal representation if your Sponsor Licence has been suspended or revoked. Your lawyer will complete all appeal forms and assist you in organising your evidence.

Contact IAS today at 0333 305 9375 or via our online contact form if you have further questions about the Sponsor Management System.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Level 1 users are required to log in to their SMS accounts at least once per month.

The sponsor’s Level 1 user must notify Sponsor Operations of any information change online using the SMS “change of circumstances” feature.

Sponsors would have to send in digital submission forms and other supporting documents. Scan or take a picture of any hard copies of documents, then send them by e-mail to “Sponsorship Change of Circumstances.”

You should take action and review your SMS access procedures as soon as possible.

If changes are required, send them via SMS within ten working days.

Check the contact information for your Authorising Officer and Key Contact as listed on your sponsor licence and your current list of Level 1 Users.

It is important to always have an Authorising Officer in place.

So, if the current person leaves the company, moves overseas, takes a sabbatical, or goes on maternity leave, you have to hire someone else, even if it’s just for a short time.

Even if the Authorising Officer doesn’t do day-to-day immigration work, UKVI sees them as their main point of contact with your company. The Authorising Officer should be able to look out for SMS inactivity and address it before the Home Office discovers it.

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