What is IELTS?
For the purposes of immigrating UKVI provides a list of Secure English Language Tests (SELTS), that set out the English language qualifications required for each category of visa application. This includes ‘IELTS for UKVI’ and ‘IELTS Life Skills’.
IELTS is an international standardised test that measures the fluency of the English language for non-native English language speakers. This test is used all over the world for proficiency tests for both migration purposes and higher education.
This test is accepted by the UK, as evidence of language proficiency for work, study or migration, as well as by Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It is also accepted for study and work in the USA. Each country does however set their own IELTS requirements.
In the UK we have ‘IELTS for UKVI’ and ‘IELTS Life Skills’ which are both created for UK visa purposes so that they would meet the administrative requirements specific to UK Visas and Immigration.
Although there is not a huge amount of difference between these two tests and the IELTS you should bear in mind that the requirements are slightly different on the report forms. UK Visas and Immigration will not accept a test you have taken that was not at one of their locations. For it to be valid for UKVI you must take the test at an IELTS UKVI visa session.
What are the different types of IELTS?
Which IELTS test you should take depends on what type of UK visa you are getting and the requirements it comes with. It could also depend on if you are coming to study, what requirements does your school have?
Whatever your visa requirements you will need to take either the ‘IELTS for UKVI’ test or the ‘IELTS Life Skills’ test.
For IELTS for UKVI, there are two different modules that you can do. These are Academic or General Training modules and both can be used as proof of English proficiency for studying, working or migrating to the UK.
IELTS for UKVI – Academic
This test will measure whether or not your English language proficiency is going to be good enough for an academic setting. It will evaluate whether or not you are ready to start studying.
This test is for those who are getting visas to come and study in the UK whether at the postgraduate or undergraduate level. This test is also for those seeking professional registration in the UK
IELTS for UKVI – General Training
This test will measure your English language proficiency in an everyday context. The test will reflect both social and workplace occurrences. This is for anyone who needs to prove proficiency for UKVI so that they can migrate or train or study below the degree level in the UK.
IELTS Life Skills
For this test, there are three different levels you could do. These are A1, A2 and B1.
A1 is for people who need to prove their English speaking and listening skills as a relative of someone who has already settled.
A2 is for people who wish to extend a parent or partner visa.
B1 is for those people who are applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
These Life Skills tests all correspond to A1, A2 and B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) which are guidelines officially recognised by UK Visas and Immigration.
Do you need IELTS for a UK Skilled Worker visa?
For any type of visa, you will have to prove your knowledge of English when you apply. You will only not need to do this if you have already done this before in a successful visa application.
You will also need to prove the level of English that you can speak, read, write and listen at. For a Skilled Worker visa, this is at least level B1 on the CEFR scale.
English proficiency can be proved in a couple of ways other than a Secure English language test you can have a GCSE, an A-level or any other qualifications that are on the same level or higher in English. If these qualifications come from abroad you will need to prove whether they are equivalent.
You can also prove this with a UK Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or PhD or any other equivalent qualification that was studied in English.
What type of IELTS is required for a Skilled Worker visa?
It is a requirement for UK visa applicants to have evidence of English language proficiency to the required CEFR level.
For a Skilled Worker visa, you will need.
- A CEFR level B1 including, reading, writing, listening and speaking.
- A score of 4.0 in each of the four skills.
- A score of 4.0 overall.
Who is exempt from the English language requirement for a Skilled Worker visa in the UK?
There are some people who will not be asked to prove their English proficiency when applying for a Skilled Worker visa for the UK. This includes if you are a national of one of the territories or countries below:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- the Bahamas
- the British overseas territories
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
There are a couple of other reasons you may be exempt as well. If you are a doctor, nurse, midwife or vet you will not need to prove your knowledge of English. This is provided that you have passed an English language assessment that is accepted by the correct regulated professional body.
For example, if you are a vet then you will have to show that you passed an English language assessment with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
How to take the IELTS?
Booking your IELTS UKVI test is not difficult. You can now use the online booking system that uses details as stated on your passport or other ID to correctly identify you.
There is also a set fee for taking the IELTS, the current prices are as follows:
- IELTS for UKVI (Academic & General Training) – £200
- IELTS Life Skills (A1, A2 & B1) – £150.
Once at the test centre, you should have your ID ready as evidence so that you will be allowed to take the test, This ID must be either a valid passport, a valid biometric residence permit or a valid travel document. They must also be the original and include a photograph of you.
If you are taking the IELTS for visa purposes then it is essential that you register for an ‘IELTS for UKVI’ test at one of the UKVI locations.
The UKVI tests are designed to meet certain requirements but there is no actual difference in the test itself. The content, format, level of difficulty and even the scoring are exactly the same as they would be were it not for UKVI. It is simply the test report forms which will show that you took the test in an IELTS UKVI session.
Where can I take an IELTS or IELTS Life Skills test for a UK visa application?
The locations that are UKVI locations for the IELTS are located all around the world meaning you will be able to find a test centre.
When registering for your test it is important that you confirm that you will be using the test to prove English language proficiency to UK Visas and Immigration.
How often is an IELTS or IELTS Life Skills test available?
You should be able to find an IELTS or IELTS Life Skills test date within 28 days at either one of the permanent locations or at a pop-up location.