Changes to Sponsor Licence Requirements: Key Updates

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What’s new? 

  • From 19 June 2023, new Level 1 Users (“LV1 Users”) being added to a sponsor licence or existing LV1 Users who are amending their personal details on the SMS, must provide their National Insurance Number (“NINO”). 
  • Alternatively, they may provide confirmation that they have applied for a NINO or an explanation as to why they’re exempt from having one. 
  • If they provide a NINO, the update will be made immediately. 
  • Failure to provide a NINO (or a valid reason/exemption from needing one) is likely to lead the Home Office to ask further questions and may affect the outcome of a request to be added as an LV1 User or for their details to be changed.  

There is no need for existing LV1 users to act unless they are amending their current details.  

Sponsor Duties  

This may seem like a minor housekeeping point, but it is incredibly important for sponsors to stay on top of the ever-evolving world of sponsor licences, making sure any report or request aligns with current guidance. 

Licensed sponsors have strict compliance duties. These include keeping details of their key personnel up to date on the SMS, but also ensuring that they have people in the business who perform the roles of Authorising Officer, Key Contact and LV1 User at all times for the duration of the licence and that those people meet the eligibility criteria set by the Home Office.  Problem areas include when the only LV1 User leaves the business, but is still named as an LV1 User on the licence.   

It’s crucial that sponsors make sure they comply with the requirements relating to Key Personnel at all times.  Not reporting a change to key personnel or appointing new key personnel within the required timeframes could have adverse consequences for the sponsor. Guidance from the Home Office has made clear that action will be taken against sponsors who fail to comply with their duties. This can include any of the following:  

  • Reducing CoS allocation or setting it to zero; 
  • Downgrading the licence rating; 
  • Suspending the licence while we investigate further; and 
  • Revoking the licence which will mean the business can no longer employ any sponsored workers. 

Not providing a NINO when requesting a change to an LV1 User is unlikely in itself to lead to a licence being revoked, but it could lead to delays.  Therefore, whilst it is not currently mandatory for Key Personnel (other than those LV1 Users outlined above) to provide their NINO, we recommend that sponsors are aware of this requirement and that the correct information is collated to avoid possible complications and delays. The Home Office has confirmed that a similar process is due to be followed later this year for Authorising Officers and Key Contacts. It’s essential that sponsors ensure that contact details for Key Personnel are regularly updated in line with the guidance and that this information is readily available to provide to the Home Office when requested 

If you have questions about the amendments to the Sponsor Guidance or on general sponsor compliance, contact our team of expert immigration lawyers.