The Home Office has announced plans to introduce a wide range of improvements to its IT systems, including the sponsorship management system. From 1 July 2013, the Sponsor Management System (SMS) will be updated to include a number of new features.
The following changes will apply to 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:
- the sponsor licence;
- Tier 2/5 Premium customer service (if applicable); and
- 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 sponsors with important information, forthcoming key dates and events, and answers to frequently asked questions, eg common SMS user issues;
- introduction of an application and licence renewal tracking function. From 1 July 2013, this will allow sponsors 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); and
- 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 2013) and renaming of existing menu options for greater ease of navigation.
Tier 4 sponsors
The following change will be implemented for Tier 4 sponsors specifically:
- an online application and renewal process for HTS will be introduced. 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. See Penningtons' news item for details of the transitional arrangements:.
Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsors
The following changes will affect Tier 2 and Tier 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, which have been created using a wider range of search parameters;
- ability to delete CoS records, where the CoSs 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; and
- alongside these improvements to the SMS, the Home Office will also be upgrading its internal sponsorship caseworking system to join up with the new SMS functions and to bring greater efficiency and consistency to its processes.
The revised and re-formatted SMS user guides in relation to these changes can be found here. The Home Office will update these guides further with additional content relevant to the July 2013 changes and re-publish them later this month.