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Legal Updates

Sponsor Management System (SMS): What is the difference between a Level 1 and Level 2 User?

29 January 2020 #Immigration

A lot of businesses who are considering applying for a sponsor licence or have recently been granted a sponsor licence may have heard the terms level 1 and level 2 user frequently, but what does each term mean?

Essentially a level 1 user carries out the day-to-day sponsorship activities using the SMS. Both level 1 and 2 users can administer the SMS and are usually HR personnel. Each level 1 and level 2 user will have their own log-in details which will enable them to access and manage the system. The main difference between a level 1 and 2 user is the level of accessibility granted. A level 2 user has far less permissions compared to a level 1 user.

Level 1 and 2 Users

A level 1 or 2 user must be one of the following:

  • Paid staff member or office holder within the organisation
  • An employee of a third-party organisation engaged by the organisation to deliver all or part of your HR function.
  • A UK-based representative

A level 1 or 2 user cannot be any of the following:

  • A contractor
  • A consultant who is contracted for a specific project
  • An undischarged bankrupt
  • A temporary staff member supplied to you by an employment agency (Only applicable to a Level 1 User)

Level 1 User

The Authorising Officer is usually a level 1 user to begin with as you can only assign this to one person when you first apply for a sponsor licence. However, additional level 1 users can be appointed via the SMS thereafter.

In essence, you can nominate as many level 1 users as you would like, however many businesses tend to limit this to two or three level 1 users. The reason for this is predominantly because the Authorising Officer has the overriding responsibility for their conduct. It is difficult to oversee level 1 activity on the SMS, if there are too many level 1 users. Nevertheless, it is recommended that there is more than one level 1 user, to ensure there is cover in the event a level 1 user is on leave or sick.

Does the level 1 user have to be a settled worker?

Usually at least one Level 1 user must be a settled worker, but there are certain exceptions:

  • if you are a diplomatic mission or international organisation licensed under the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) International Agreement subcategory
  • if your authorising officer is a person with valid leave as a:
  • Representative of an Overseas Business
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrant
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrant
  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) migrant
  • Start-up migrant
  • Innovator

What can they action on the SMS?




Request further Level 1 users and add Level 2 users to the SMS or remove them

Assign CoS to a migrant

Assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to migrants

Report worker activity to UKVI

Request an increase in the number of CoS you can assign


Inform UKVI of any minor changes to details


Inform UKBI of any change of circumstances via SMS


Report worker activity to UKVI


Withdraw a CoS


Inform UKVI of any changes for work addresses


To use the bulk data transfer feature


Change user details


View information about licence and key personnel.


Access key messages that we post from time to time


Apply to renew licence and track progress of application


Apply for premium customer service and track progress of application


Apply for Tier 2 and/or 5 premium sponsor status and track the progress of application


Clarkslegal, specialist Immigration lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Immigration matter please contact Clarkslegal's immigration team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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Immigration team
+44 (0)20 7539 8000