IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration

Wednesday 25 March 2015



Degree students for UK unaffected by UKVI changes

• The UK government has announced important changes to Secure English Language Tests (SELT) for visa purposes;

• IELTS and the new test IELTS Life Skills have been approved for UK visas that require proof of English language level;

• Tier 4 UK student visa rules remain unchanged.


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 – the world’s most popular test of English for higher education and global migration – has been approved for all UK visas that require applicants to provide proof of their level of English. This continues the important role which IELTS has long played in language testing for immigration in the UK and other countries, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Under the new arrangements, IELTS tests for UK visa applications will be offered throughout the year in more than 100 key locations throughout the world, and a new test – IELTS Life Skills – will be introduced for people who need to prove their speaking and listening skills at level A1 or B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

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.

IELTS tests for UK Visas and Immigration are managed by the IELTS SELT Consortium, which comprises British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment.

Those who are applying for a Tier 4 student visa to a Highly Trusted/Tier 4 Sponsor (HTS) to study for a bachelor or postgraduate degree are required to meet the English language level set by the institution. All British universities and colleges accept IELTS results. This means students can apply with an IELTS result from any of the 1,000 IELTS test locations worldwide unless their institution has additional requirements. See for a full list of test locations.

IELTS, which is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment, has played a key role in language testing for immigration purposes throughout its 25 year history and is recognised by more than 9,000 organisations around the world including universities and employers in many countries, as well as by professional bodies, immigration authorities and other government agencies. More than 2.5 million IELTS tests were taken in 2014 in more than 140 countries.The Tier 4 student visa rules, current at the time of writing, detail the specific arrangements for those applying to study with Highly Trusted Sponsors, which are listed at this link:

Notes to Editor

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the International English Language Testing System, the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration with over 2.5 million tests taken in the last year. Over 9,000 organisations trust and accept IELTS as a secure, valid and reliable indicator of true to life ability to communicate in English for education, immigration and professional accreditation. IELTS is jointly owned by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment.

British Council is the UK's international organisation for education and cultural relations. Dedicated to building trust through the exchange of knowledge between people worldwide, the British Council is represented in over 100 countries.

IDP: IELTS Australia, a subsidiary of IDP Education, is one of the world’s leading international education organisations, offering student placement with universities and colleges in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. IDP Education has 45 years’ experience in international higher education, placing more than 400,000 students.

Cambridge English Language Assessment is the world's leading provider of exams for learners of English. Each year the exams are taken by more than 5 million people, in 130 countries.

IELTS USA is the American division of IELTS located in Los Angeles, CA, responsible for U.S. stakeholder relations, as well as the management and delivery of the IELTS test center network throughout the USA.

About the test

Candidates are tested in listening, reading, writing and speaking. All tests are scored on a banded system from 1 (the lowest) through to 9 (the highest band).

IELTS offers a choice of two versions, to serve both academic and non-academic purposes. IELTS Academic measures English language proficiency needed for an academic, higher learning environment. The tasks and texts are accessible to all test-takers, irrespective of their subject focus. IELTS General Training measures English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context. The tasks and texts reflect both workplace and social situations. General Training is suitable for immigration purposes to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

A sample of government and professional associations who recognise or require applicants to hold an IELTS test result include:

• Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)

• Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)

• UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)

• Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools and National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), USA

• International Monetary Fund

About the British Council

In Singapore, the work of the British Council includes teaching English to adults and young learners; teacher and corporate training; IELTS and Exams; providing the latest information about UK education; promoting British education and training; and demonstrating the innovation, creativity and excellence of British arts, literature and design.

Our mission is to build mutually beneficial relationships between people in the UK and Singapore and to increase Singaporeans' appreciation of the UK's creative ideas and achievements. This work is driven by our strong belief in internationalism, valuing people, a commitment to professionalism and an enthusiasm for creativity. We hold ourselves to the highest possible standards of integrity. We believe that cultural relations can help individuals and the world community to thrive.