The Home Office have announced the introduction of a wide range of improvements to the sponsorship management system (SMS). These are due to be implemented on 1 July 2013, with potential further changes to follow. According to the Home Office, these enhancements should help SMS users with the anticipated outcome of ‘fewer rejected applications and requests and more effective, better targeted communications’ – let’s hope so! Some of the changes that we believe will prove helpful to SMS users include:
- an immediately visible message screen providing users with key dates, events and answers to users’ most frequently asked questions;
- the introduction of an application and licence renewal tracking function;
- reduced and simplified options for reporting migrant activity; and
- advance search functions for Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS), designed to enable SMS users to more easily access previously assigned CoS through the introduction of more sophisticated search parameters.
Finally, the Home Office has announced that the most significant change will be the implementation of a speedier and simpler way for sponsors to add additional Tiers and categories to existing sponsor licenses. All great news indeed, assuming that the IT actually works.
New guidance on the precise nature of these changes and how they will operate in practice will be released on the Home Office website shortly and we will send a further alert once the full extent of the changes are known. The Home Office appears to be listening to feedback from users and so if you have had difficulties using the SMS in the past, and have further suggestions as to how it can be improved once the July changes are in place, please let us know and we will feed this back to the Home Office on your behalf.