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Key Personnel in Sponsor Licence Applications

How to appoint key personnel to a skilled worker sponsor licence

If you want to hire skilled workers from outside the UK, you need to apply for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence from the Home Office. This licence allows you to issue certificates of sponsorship to eligible workers who can then apply for a Skilled Worker visa.

One of the requirements for applying for a sponsor licence is to appoint certain individuals within your organisation to manage the sponsorship process. These individuals are known as key personnel, and they have different roles and responsibilities.

What are the key personnel roles?

The key personnel roles are:

Authorising officer: This is a senior and competent person who is responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the sponsorship management system (SMS). The SMS is an online tool that allows you to manage your licence and sponsor workers. The authorising officer must ensure that your organisation complies with the sponsor duties and obligations, and that the SMS is used correctly and securely.

Key contact: This is your main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). The key contact can be the same person as the authorising officer or a different person. The key contact will receive all communications from UKVI, such as updates on your licence application, requests for information or documents, and notifications of compliance visits or licence changes. You can appoint a representative, such as Freeths LLP, to help manage your licence. Your representative can be appointed as your key contact. 

Level 1 user: This is a person who is responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS. The level 1 user can perform various tasks on the SMS, such as assigning certificates of sponsorship, reporting changes in your organisation or sponsored workers, renewing or surrendering your licence, and adding or removing other SMS users. The authorising officer and key contact should always be appointed as level 1 users to ensure they have access to the SMS to enable them to undertake their role. Your organisation may consider appointing a member of the business immigration team at Freeths as a level 1 user to support your business in managing the licence. It is usually advisable to appoint one other person from within the organisation as a level 1 user to ensure that you always have a person on hand who can access the SMS. 

Level 2 user: This is an optional role that you can appoint once you have your licence. A level 2 user has more restricted access than a level 1 user. A level 2 user can help with some of the administrative tasks on the SMS, such as viewing certificates of sponsorship, reporting worker absences or changes in personal details, and requesting an increase in your annual allocation of certificates.

Who can be appointed as key personnel?

Your proposed key personnel will be checked by UKVI to make sure they are suitable for these roles. You may not get your licence if your proposed key personnel have:

  • An unspent criminal conviction for certain offences
  • Been fined by UKVI in the past 12 months
  • Been reported to UKVI for breaching immigration rules
  • Broken the law in any way
  • Been a key person at a sponsor that had its licence revoked in the last 12 months
  • Failed to pay VAT or other excise duty
  • Your key personnel must also:
  • Be based in the UK most of the time
  • Not be a contractor or consultant contracted for a specific project
  • Not be subject to a bankruptcy restriction order or undertaking, or a debt relief restriction order or undertaking
  • Not have a history of non-compliance with sponsor requirements

Your authorising officer must usually be a paid member of staff, or office holder. If you are applying for a UK Expansion Worker sponsor licence, you can appoint the overseas expansion worker visa application as the authorising officer. 

You can also appoint third-party organisations that provide you with HR services, such as HR contractors, agency staff, or legal representatives, as level 1 or level 2 users. However, at least one level 1 user must be an employee, partner or director in your organisation.

How to appoint key personnel?

You need to appoint your key personnel when you apply for your sponsor licence online. You will need to provide their name, employment contact details such as their work address, email address and telephone number, date of birth, and national insurance number. You will need to confirm whether they are subject to immigration control and whether they have any unspent criminal convictions. You will also need to give consent for UKVI to carry out suitability checks on them.

You can change your key personnel at any time after you have your licence by using the SMS. However, you must always have an authorising officer, a key contact, and at least one level 1 user in place. You must report any changes in your key personnel within 10 working days.

How can our immigration solicitors help?

Appointing key personnel is an important step in applying for and maintaining your sponsor licence. You need to ensure that you choose suitable individuals who can fulfil their roles effectively and comply with the sponsor duties and obligations.

Our specialist immigration solicitors at Freeths LLP can offer support with applying for your licence and specifically with appointing your key personnel, such as:

  • Advising on the eligibility and suitability criteria for key personnel
  • Helping you complete the online application form and submit the required documents
  • Providing training and guidance on how to use the SMS and perform the key personnel tasks
  • Assisting with any queries or issues that arise during or after your licence application
  • Representing you in any communications or negotiations with UKVI
  • Being appointed as your key contact, representative and/or level 1 user to help you to manage your licence

If you need any assistance with appointing key personnel or any other aspect of your sponsor licence application, please contact us today. We have extensive experience and expertise in helping employers obtain and manage their sponsor licences. 

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