Improvements to the Sponsorship Management System (SMS)

The Home Office recently announced that they will make changes to improve the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). These enhancements, which are due to come into effect on 1 July 2013, aimed to bring greater efficiency to sponsorship processes.

The new features being introduced to SMS are summarised below:

For all sponsors
Key dates related to sponsor licences to be displayed in the ‘Licence summary’ screen (changing from ‘Sponsor summary’) in SMS; specifically, the start, expiry and renewal dates for the following:
– Your sponsor licence;
– Tier 2/5 Premium customer service (if applicable);
– Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) status (Tier 4 sponsors only);

New message screen, presented to all Level 1 users immediately after logging in. This new feature will be used to provide you with important information, forthcoming key dates and events and answers to frequently asked questions, for instance common SMS user issues;

Introduction of an application and licence renewal tracking function. From 1 July, this will allow you to track the status and outcomes of applications submitted for licence renewal, Premium customer service and renewal (if applicable) and HTS status and renewal (Tier 4 only);

Revisions to the SMS menu structure and content. The changes include new menu options for the functions being added, removal of the ‘Outstanding payments’ item (as cheque payment will no longer be accepted for any sponsorship services from 1 July) and renaming of existing menu options for greater ease of navigation.

For Tier 4 sponsors
Introduction of an online application and renewal process for HTS. This will replace the existing paper application form and payment by cheque, which will no longer be accepted.

The transition to the electronic application process will require transitional arrangements for some Tier 4 sponsors.

For Tier 2/5 sponsors
Addition of an online renewal function for Tier 2/5 Premium customer service;

Display of Premium customer service licence manager and senior account manager contact details (if applicable);

Advanced search function for certificates of sponsorship (CoS). This will allow SMS users for Tier 2/5 sponsors to more easily identify CoS that they have created using a wider range of search parameters;

Ability to delete CoS records, where the CoS have not been assigned;

Reduced and simplified options for reporting migrant activity;

Additional information about action plans issued to sponsors, including status updates and key dates.

In advance of these changes, Home Office has published revised and re-formatted SMS user guides, based on feedback and quality assurance comments received from users. The revised guides can be found on their website at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/business-sponsors/points/sponsoringmigrants/sms/

If you have any questions regarding your sponsorship license please contact us for legal advice.