IELTS for UK Visas

These changes do not affect Tier 4 student visas. If you are applying for a Tier 4 visa to study for a bachelor or postgraduate degree your college or university will decide what your English language level needs to be, and therefore, what test you may need to take. Please check with your college or university.

The following text is taken from the British Council website for your information. Please visit the British Council website directly for up to date information on IELTS for UK visas.  

Last updated: June 2015 

The UK government has announced important changes to language testing for visa applications, reducing the number of tests accepted for visa purposes and bringing in new requirements for the way the tests will be administered.

IELTS has been approved as a SELT (Secure English Language Test) for all UK visas that require applicants to provide proof of their level of English from 6 April 2015. 

IELTS tests for visa purposes can only be taken at authorised centres and the centre must follow procedures specified by the UK government. When a test is booked, the customer must specify what the test is for and ensure that the centre is authorised to run tests for this purpose.

What are the changes?

From 6 April 2015 the IELTS test will be accepted for visa applications to the UK where the applicant is required to provide proof of their English level.

In addition to the IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic tests, a new type of test called IELTS Life Skills will be introduced.

The IELTS Life Skills test will only be available for candidates who require it for UK visa applications, where lower levels of English language are required. The IELTS Life Skills test will test Speaking and Listening skills only.

The following tests are approved for the UKVI:

Approved SELT Level Minimum grade required
IELTS Life Skills A1 Pass
IELTS Life Skills B1 Pass
IELTS B1 Reading: 4.0, Writing: 4.0, Listening: 4.0, Speaking: 4.0
IELTS B2 Reading: 5.5, Writing: 5.5, Listening: 5.5, Speaking: 5.5
IELTS C1 Reading: 7.0, Writing: 7.0, Listening: 7.0, Speaking: 7.0
IELTS C2 Reading: 8.5, Writing: 8.5, Listening: 8.5, Speaking: 8.5

For more information on the UK visas and immigration, please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-applying-for-uk-visa-approved-english-language-tests

It is important that you check with the UKVI or educational institution you are applying to and confirm which test they want you to take.

FAQs

Where can I take an IELTS or IELTS Life Skills test for a UK visa application?

Belfast Cardiff Manchester London Central London East
Edinburgh Birmingham London North London West Bristol

Which IELTS test do I need if I am applying for a UK visa?

If you are applying for a UK visa in the UK, there is an IELTS test for you. For visa applications to the UK, you may need to have an English language qualification. In particular, for many categories of visa, you must submit an English language qualification which is included on the UK Home Office’s list of Secure English Language Tests (often referred to as SELT tests). IELTS and IELTS Life Skills are on this list.

To find out whether you need to take an approved SELT test, what level you need to achieve, and which test you can use, you should visit www.takeielts.britishcouncil.org/ielts-uk-immigration-visa.  There is also a wealth of information on UKVI’s website www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-applying-for-uk-visa-approved-english-language-tests. 

Can I use any IELTS test result for UK visa and immigration application?

If you wish to use an IELTS test result as part of your application to UKVI – apart from some types of student visa – you may need to take an IELTS for UKVI or IELTS Life Skills test. Please refer to the table on page 4 to find out which IELTS test you should take for each type of UK visa.

Both the UKVI and Life Skills tests must be taken at an IELTS test location specifically authorised by UKVI, and must be taken under specified conditions. You will receive an IELTS or IELTS Life Skills Test Report Form to show that your test met these requirements.

When can I take an IELTS or IELTS Life Skills for a UK visa application?

We will be announcing dates for registration and testing shortly on www.takeielts.britishcouncil.org/ielts-ukvi. 

If I take an IELTS test for UK visa and immigration purposes, can I use my result in other countries / for other purposes?

Yes. IELTS test results are accepted by more than 9,000 organisations worldwide, including universities, colleges, governments and employers.

I’ve already taken IELTS. Can I still use my result to apply to UK Visas and Immigration?

If you take IELTS on or before 5 April 2015 you may be able to use it for your application up to 5 November 2015.

From 6 April 2015 you must take the test at an IELTS test centre authorised to run IELTS tests for UK visa and immigration purposes and you must confirm at the time of registration that you wish to use your test for these purposes

What do I need to do if I am applying to study at a British university or college?

When applying for undergraduate and postgraduate courses at most UK universities and colleges, different arrangements may apply – you should contact the institution you wish to apply to for more information.

What is IELTS Life Skills? What is it for?

IELTS Life Skills is a test of Speaking and Listening, available at CEFR Level A1 and CEFR Level B1. It is designed to meet the requirements of UK Visas and Immigration for certain visa categories.

You need to check to see what test is required for your situation (https://www.gov.uk/english-language).

When and where can I take an IELTS Life Skills test?

We will be announcing dates for registration and testing shortly on www.takeielts.britishcouncil.org/ielts-ukvi.

IELTS Life Skills tests are available throughout the world, in locations specified by UK Visas and Immigration. The IELTS Life Skills test centres will also be announced here shortly.

To find out whether you need to take an approved test, and what level you need to achieve, please visit www.gov.uk for more information.

What is the format of the IELTS Life Skills test?

You take the test with another test taker and one Examiner. Your own performance on both speaking and listening will be assessed during this one session.

Why does IELTS Life Skills only cover Speaking and Listening?

This new test has been designed to meet the specific requirements of some UK visas for which you only need to demonstrate Speaking and Listening skills.

How long does the IELTS Life Skills test take?

IELTS Life Skills at CEFR Level A1 takes 16-18 minutes and Level B1 is 22 minutes.

Is there any break between Speaking and Listening?

No. You will be assessed on your Speaking and Listening skills at the same time.

How is IELTS Life Skills assessed?

A certificated IELTS Examiner will assess your performance throughout the Listening and Speaking test based on the following criteria:

  • obtaining information
  • conveying information
  • speaking to communicate
  • engaging in discussion

How can I prepare for the IELTS Life Skills test?

Free test samples will be available shortly on http://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/ielts-uk-immigration-visa  and you’ll be able to take classes here at IH London.

How many copies of IELTS Life Skills Test Report Form will I get?

You will receive one copy of the IELTS Life Skills Test Report Form.

How soon will I get my IELTS Life Skills results?

Test results are normally available within 7 days of your test.

How often is an IELTS or IELTS Life Skills test available?

For IELTS and IELTS Life Skills, test dates will be available within 28 days of booking your test.

How often can I re-take IELTS or IELTS Life Skills?

There are no restrictions on retaking IELTS. You can register for a test as soon as you feel you are ready to do so.

Candidates who have previously taken the IELTS Life Skills test and have passed are not allowed to re-take the test at the same level within two years, e.g. a candidate who has taken an IELTS Life Skills A1 test and has passed cannot take another Life Skills A1 test within two years. Similarly a candidate who has taken an IELTS Life Skills B1 test and has passed cannot take another Life Skills B1 test within two years. 

For further information on the UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) announcement, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-applying-for-uk-visa-approved-english-language-tests

Book your IELTS for UK visas test

Visit the British Council online registration system website to book your IELTS for UK visas test.