About IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration
The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is a government organisation responsible for deciding who has the right to visit or stay in the United Kingdom every year. Learn more about UK Visas and Immigration here.
As part of UK visa applications, an English language proficiency test will be required from applicants who wish to work, to study or to migrate in the UK. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for UKVI is an approved English language test recognised by the organisation.
IELTS test formats and types for UKVI
The test you take and the score you will need will depend on both your visa requirements and/or the requirements of the institution where you plan to study or to work. You can take the IELTS Academic module, the IELTS General Training module or the IELTS Life Skills test, depending on your visa application requirements and/or the required test type and score of the organisation you will be studying or woking with.
a) IELTS for UKVI Academic
The Academic module measures English language proficiency needed for an academic, higher learning environment. This format is generally for those who want to study or train in a university that teaches in English at an undergraduate or a postgraduate level, or academic institutions of higher and further education.
However, many professions (e.g. medical, nursing, accounting, engineering) also require an Academic test result for registration purposes in many countries.
b) IELTS for UKVI General Training
IELTS General Training module measures English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context. The tasks and texts reflect both workplace and social situations. This format is normally for those who are going to English-speaking countries to do secondary education, work experience or training programs. This version of the test is also often a visa requirement if you are planning to migrate to English speaking countries, like the United Kingdom.
Note: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests for UK visa applications and non-UK visa applications are the same—similar content, examiners, format, level of difficulty, scoring and so on.
c) IELTS Life Skills
IELTS Life Skills is a test of Speaking and Listening, available at Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) levels A1 or B1. It is designed to meet the requirements of UK Visas and Immigration for certain visa categories and other immigration purposes.
It is generally for applicants who need to show that their English speaking and listening skills meet the required CEFR level A1 or B1, depending on the requirement of the visa category.
For more information about IELTS Life Skills, please visit IELTS Life Skills.
It is recommended that you check with UK Visas and Immigration before registering for your test to find out the English language requirements of your visa application.
The IELTS test score required for UK visa applications
UK visa applicants must have the required level of English to support their application. You can use the following table as a general guide for an ideal IELTS score.
|Visa description||Minimum CEFR level required||Skills||IELTS test and minimum score required overall and in each skill1|
|Tier 1 (General) visa||C1||Reading, Writing Speaking, and Listening||IELTS - 7.0 overall, and in each of the four skills|
|Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa||B1||Reading, Writing Speaking, and Listening||IELTS - 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills|
|Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa||B1||Reading, Writing Speaking, and Listening||IELTS - 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills|
|Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa||B1||Reading, Writing Speaking, and Listening||IELTS - 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills|
|Tier 2 (General) visa||B1||Reading, Writing Speaking, and Listening||IELTS - 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills|
|Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa||A1||Reading, Writing Speaking, and Listening||IELTS - 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills1|
|Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa||B2||Reading, Writing Speaking, and Listening||IELTS - 5.5 overall, and in each of the four skills|
|Tier 4 (General) student visa - below degree level||B1||Reading, Writing Speaking, and Listening||IELTS - 4.0 overall, and in each of the four skills|
|Tier 4 (General) student visa - degree level and above and including some pre-sessional courses||B2||Reading, Writing Speaking, and Listening||IELTS - 5.5 overall, and in each of the four skills|
|‘Family of a settled person’ visa||A1||Speaking and Listening||IELTS Life Skills at A1 – Pass |
IELTS – 4.0 in Speaking and Listening
|Indefinite leave to remain (to settle) or citizenship||B1||Speaking and Listening||IELTS Life Skills at B1 – Pass |
IELTS – 4.0 in Speaking and Listening
IELTS is accepted by UKVI at band scores 4.0 and above, equivalent to CEFR level B1. Both Academic and General Training are accepted; however, the CEFR requirement for each skill must be met.
- There are organisations or institutions which will require an average, minimum score for all four skills (Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening), and/or will also require minimum scores for each skill. It is recommended that you ensure the minimum score/s required for your applications before taking the test.
- A standard IELTS for UKVI result can be used where IELTS Life Skills is asked for or required; candidates would need to get 4.0 or above in Speaking and Listening (and scores for Reading and Writing will be ignored).
- Universities on UKVI’s list of Tier 4 Sponsors decide which exams to accept when a Secure English Language Test (SELT) is not required.
If you want to study for a bachelor or postgraduate degree and are applying for a Tier 4 Student Visa for a university that is a Tier 4 Sponsor (previously known as Highly Trusted Sponsors), you will be required to meet the English language level set by the institution.
All British universities and colleges accept IELTS results. This means that you do not need to take the IELTS test under UKVI specified condition, unless your institution has required you to.
Need more help on your plans of studying in the UK? Let our IDP Education Counsellors help you! Leave us your details here so we can call you back.
Changes do not affect the use of IELTS by people from the European Union, European Economic Area, Switzerland and ‘majority English speaking countries’ as defined by the Home Office.
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