Many Sponsors will have experienced severe delays when making requests to the Home Office via their Sponsor Management System (SMS). For example, most Sponsors need to request additional Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) from the Home Office from time to time but these requests have not been given priority.
This has particularly affected those Sponsors who received an automatic CoS allocation during the annual CoS allocation round in April, based on previous usage only. Some Sponsors were refused an allocation in April 2016, or given an auto-allocation of zero. Additional requests are now being made but when requests to expedite the application are submitted, the usual response from the Home Office is that the processing time is 18 weeks.
This is clearly an unsatisfactory service and does not cater for the needs of business to be in a position to issue a CoS when they urgently need to recruit a skilled migrant. Feedback on this has been provided to the Home Office by Kingsley Napley and other legal representatives during business user forum sessions hosted by the Home Office.
In an effort to deal with these delays, the Home Office has just announced a new optional premium service for Sponsors to have their SMS requests dealt with on a priority basis. CoS allocation requests are the most frequent requests made, but others include having a new Level 1 user appointed.
The fee for the new premium service will be £200, to cover the cost of expediting the processing of a request in connection with a Sponsor’s SMS. The legislation for the new premium service fee will come into force next month. The date when the service will be introduced has not yet been announced by the Home Office.
No further details of the new service are available at the present time but once more information is revealed, we will provide you with a further update.