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Sponsorship Management System Guidance

The Home Office’s Sponsor Management System (SMS) is a secure online website portal that is accessed and used by licenced sponsors for the purpose of sponsorship management and meeting their sponsor licence duties. All sponsor licence holders are required to meet a strict set of duties and obligations, including reporting, record keeping, and monitoring, with the main aim of preventing illegal working. It is the SMS that enables sponsors to create Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) and report important changes to the Home Office on a day-to-day basis.

As a sponsor licence holder, you must use the SMS correctly for its intended purpose, as failure to do so can result in your sponsor licence being downgraded, suspended, or revoked. As a result, you may lose your right to sponsor overseas workers. In addition, you risk receiving a civil penalty (e.g. a fine of up to £20,000 if you are found to have employed an illegal worker) or even criminal prosecution.

Who can use the Sponsor Management System (SMS)

The SMS is used by all businesses and educational establishments granted a sponsor licence by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Only certain individuals (users) are permitted to access and use the SMS. These are referred to as:

  • Authorising Officers – this is the most senior person within your organisation with responsibility for hiring overseas workers and meeting your sponsor duties. The Authorising User is also responsible for deciding who should have access to the SMS, their level of permission, and the actions of all SMS users.
  • Key Contacts – this is the main point of contact between the sponsoring organisation and the Home Office.
  • Level 1 users – they are responsible for day-to-day sponsorship activities

Level 2 users – they are also responsible for day-to-day sponsorship activities but have fewer rights and permissions compared to Level 1 users.

It is important to note that, by default, only level 1 and 2 users have access to the SMS. However, they can give level 1 or level 2 access to the Authorising Officer or Key Contact as required.

Level 1 access can also be given to external third parties, including immigration solicitors, who can play a key role in ensuring your ongoing sponsor licence compliance.

For assistance with your sponsor licence or guidance on the sponsor management system, please speak to our immigration lawyers in complete confidence at 020 3744 2797 or by email at

Using the UKVI sponsor management system

A wide range of sponsor management functions can be provided through the SMS portal. In particular, the day-to-day sponsorship duties include:

Level 1 users

  • Assigning CoS to workers
  • Asking for an increase in the CoS limit
  • Requesting more Level 1 Users and adding Level 2 Users
  • Removing Level 1 and 2 users
  • Reporting changes to sponsor details
  • Reporting changes in circumstances (e.g. unauthorised absences of sponsored workers or if they do not arrive for work on day 1)
  • Informing UKVI of changes to work addresses
  • Making changes to user details
  • Viewing information on licence and Key Personnel
  • Accessing key messages from UKVI
  • Appling for sponsor licence renewals
  • Applying for premium customer service

Level 2 users

  • Creating and assigning CoSs to workers
  • Reporting worker activity to UKVI where the user has created and assigned a CoS or where a CoS has been transferred to them by a Level 1 User

How to apply for a sponsor licence

To apply for a sponsor licence, employers and educational providers need to complete several steps, as follows:

  1. Put in place the necessary HR systems and processes to ensure compliance with UKVI’s sponsor licence compliance duties and obligations
  2. Decide who should fulfil the roles of authorising officer, key contact, level 1 user, and level 2 users.
  3. Complete the online sponsor licence application form
  4. Pay the application fee - this depends on the type of licence and type/size of organisation – fees range from £536 to £1,476
  5. Submit any documents requested to UKVI – including the ‘submission sheet’ provided at the end of the application process

Applications for sponsor licences can take up to 8 weeks to complete. As part of the application, you may receive a visit from a UKVI compliance officer who will carry out a pre-licence compliance visit to make sure your organisation meets all of the duties and obligations of a sponsor licence holder.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

The business immigration team at Reiss Edwards handles all aspects of your sponsor licence application and ongoing compliance requirements. Our corporate immigration solicitors can:

  • Providing immigration compliance and audit support, including mock audits to simulate UKVI compliance visits
  • Handle your application for a sponsor licence and sponsor licence extension
  • Overcome any sponsor licence compliance problems, including where a licence has been downgraded, suspended, or revoked, restoring the ability of organisations to sponsor overseas workers or students
  • Overcome the refusal of a sponsor licence application

For assistance with applying for a sponsor licence or any compliance matter, please speak to our business immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation at 020 3744 2797 or by email at

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