Home Office Warning to Sponsors for Inactive SMS


We’re aware that the Home Office’s Sponsor, Assurance and Investigations Team have contacted some sponsor licence holders by email to warn of inactivity on their Sponsorship Management System.

Sponsor licence holders are required to keep their SMS records up to date, or risk enforcement action. This includes ensuring your key personnel details are up to date.

The email says:

“We have tried to contact both Mr X  & Ms X, who are shown as the Authorising Officer and Key Contact for the above company/organisation, on the following numbers XXXXXXXXXXX & XXXXXXXXXXXX, as detailed on your Sponsor Licence. Our attempt has been unsuccessful.

Please note that it is a condition of your sponsorship licence that records are kept up to date.

Please see the appropriate user manual on the following link if you are unsure how to maintain these records: SMS Guide 2: Managing your licence.

Our records show that the following Level 1 user(s) have not logged in to the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) in over 12 months: Mr X

The guidance includes the following pertinent paragraphs:

Paragraph L10.4:

You need to access your SMS account regularly to review and update your licence details and to keep up to date with the latest news, messages, and any changes that may be coming up. We recommend that your Level 1 User accesses your account at least once a month.

Paragraph L4.31:

You must have at least one Level 1 User who is an employee, a partner or a director. If you have more than one Level 1 User, any additional Level 1 Users must be one of the following:

  • a paid staff member or office holder within your organisation
  • an employee of a third-party organisation engaged by you to deliver all or part of your HR function
  • a UK-based representative

Please review your current list of Level 1 Users and also the contact details of your Authorising Officer and Key Contact as shown on your sponsor licence. If any amendments are required, please ensure that these are undertaken on SMS within the next 10 working days.

If you no longer have an authorised Level 1 User within your organisation then please complete the manual Change of Circumstances form to request the required changes via the following link:  Sponsor change of circumstances form – GOV.UK.”


What should you do if you receive the email?

Sponsors should consider the email as a warning to address potential compliance breaches and avoid further investigation or attention from the Home Office.

If you receive this email from the Home Office,  it is advisable to take action quickly to assess the current status of your licence.

  • Check your key personnel details – has anybody left and needs to be replaced on the system?
  • Check all contact details are correct and up to date.
  • Use the Change of Circumstances form to notify of relevant changes.
  • Have a process in place requiring the level 1 user to log in to the SMS at least once a month to check details.

While the email doesn’t make clear the consequences of failing to act, we do know that under the sponsorship rules, employers can face enforcement action if they fail to meet their compliance duties. This could include suspension or revocation of the licence, which will impact your ability to continue employing sponsored workers.


Need assistance?

We support sponsors with licence checks and audits. We also deliver specialist training for Level 1 and Level 2 SMS users to empower your team to manage your organisation’s licence effectively and in full compliance with your obligations.

If you have any questions about using the SMS to update records or key personnel details, or on any aspect of sponsor licence compliance, do get in touch.

Last updated: 26 April 2022


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

Contact DavidsonMorris
Get in touch with DavidsonMorris for general enquiries, feedback and requests for information.
Sign up to our award winning newsletters!
Find us on: