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Language testing for UK Visas and Immigration

IELTS recognised for all categories of visa


The UK government has confirmed new requirements for secure English language testing for visa and immigration purposes. These requirements reduce the number of tests on the list of Secure English Language Tests (SELT) which are required for many categories of visa, and bring in additional requirements for the way the tests are administered.

Cambridge English has worked with our IELTS partners, British Council and IDP: IELTS Australia, to meet these new requirements.

The key features of the new arrangements are:

  • Applicants who need to prove their level of English to support an application for any category of UK visa will be able to use IELTS scores, at Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) level B1 (IELTS score 4.0) and above.
  • A new IELTS Life Skills test will be introduced, specifically designed for applicants who need to prove their speaking and listening skills at CEFR levels A1 and B1.
  • For many categories of visa, the tests will need to be taken under specified conditions at centres which are specifically approved for this purpose. The requirements for each visa category and for other immigration purposes are specified in full on the official website.
  • IELTS is setting up a network of centres across the UK and the rest of the world which will be fully equipped to deliver tests which conform to UK immigration requirements, and will be authorised by UK Visas and Immigration to deliver language testing for UK visa purposes. Details of these centres will be announced shortly. Tests will be available regularly in locations around the world where UK visas are issued.
  • From 6 April 2015, Cambridge English exams other than IELTS will not be included on the UK government list of Secure English Language Tests, but they will remain valid for other visa and immigration purposes. For example, applicants for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at most UK universities will still be able to use exams such as Cambridge English: Advanced and Cambridge English: Proficiency to support their applications, and to meet the requirements for admission to British universities which have Highly Trusted Sponsor status.
  • Please note that these changes do not affect the use of Cambridge English exams or IELTS by people from the European Union, European Economic Area or Switzerland.

The first IELTS and IELTS Life Skills exams under the new arrangements will be run in late April 2015.

IELTS and IELTS Life Skills are ideal tests for UK visas and immigration purposes. They are designed to ensure that candidates have the skills they need for success in an English speaking environment, and that they can use the language effectively in a wide range of different contexts. IELTS has been in operation for over 25 years and is recognised by more than 9,000 organisations.