If you’re looking to apply for a sponsor licence, then you’ll need to have key personnel in place to manage the process. One of these key roles is the authorising officer, who is responsible for the management and compliance of the sponsor licence.
But who can be the authorising officer for a sponsor licence? It can’t just be anyone – there are some strict guidelines you’ll need to follow. Feeling confused? In this post, we’ll set out the guidelines and exclusions for becoming an authorising officer, along with the responsibilities of the role.
Who can be the authorising officer for a sponsor licence?
The authorising officer is required to be the most senior person in your organisation who is responsible for the recruitment of all migrant workers, as well as ensuring that all sponsor duties are carried out.
If your company doesn’t recruit your sponsored workers, then the authorising officer must be the most senior person in charge of your activities as a licensed sponsor. You cannot outsource the role.
Your authorising officer must be a paid member of your staff or an office holder. In most cases, they will need to be based in the UK. However, there is an exception to this rule for the UK Expansion Worker sponsor licence. For this licence, you can appoint a staff member from overseas as your authorising officer, if no UK employees are suitable. However, they’ll still need to be granted entry clearance to work on expanding your business in the UK.
Who is excluded from being an authorising officer?
Individuals excluded from becoming an authorising officer include those who:
- have relevant unspent criminal convictions
- are legally prohibited from becoming a company director
- are a contractor or consultant hired for a specific project
- are subject to bankruptcy or debt relief restriction orders or undertakings
- have an outstanding civil penalty, particularly for immigration-related offences, including employing illegal workers
- have been named as key personnel at an organisation whose sponsor licence has been revoked in the last 12 months
- have been penalised for failing to pay VAT or duty
- have a previous record of poor compliance
Other restrictions for who can be the authorising officer for a sponsor licence are set out in the Home Office’s guidance for sponsors.
The Home Office will want to ensure that the key personnel in charge of managing sponsorship duties in your organisation are trustworthy and fit for the role. If your authorising officer has a record of non-compliance, has been subject to bankruptcy orders, or has unspent convictions, then this will naturally put your sponsor licence application at risk of being rejected.
Even without these more obvious issues, it’s important to choose carefully when selecting a staff member as your authorising officer – or you could risk wasting your sponsor licence fees.
You must always ensure you have an authorising officer in place whilst your sponsor licence is active. So, if your current authorising officer is leaving the organisation, you will need to have a replacement officer in place before they go. You can change your authorising officer in the SMS system.
What are the responsibilities of an authorising officer?
The authorising officer in a sponsor licence will manage the recruitment of migrant workers within the sponsoring organisation, and ensure that the organisation is fully compliant with the Home Office. They’ll need to oversee migrant workers sponsored and employed by the organisation, keeping their details up to date and recording proper documentation.
They’ll also manage the company’s activities on the Home Office portal for managing sponsorship tasks, known as the sponsorship management system (SMS). This will involve authorising other key personnel, so they can access the system. The authorising officer will decide how many employees need access to the system, and what level of access they should be given.
They may also be required to speak with the Home Office to respond to any questions or concerns that they may have.
Legal advice and support for sponsor licence applications
Sponsor licence applications are vital for organisations that use overseas talent. Unfortunately, they’re not always easy to understand. It’s important to note that this blog post is for informational purposes only. For any uncertainties, including questions about the role of the authorising officer, we strongly recommend consulting with our experienced business immigration solicitors for professional legal advice.
From Certificates of Sponsorship to support with Home Office audits, we’re here to help you with all aspects of sponsor licence guidance. If you’d like to discuss your circumstances further, then you can schedule a free 30-minute consultation with our experienced team. We’ll be happy to advise you – and there’s no obligation to continue if it’s not right for you.