Taking an approved English language test is one of the primary requirements of many UK Visas. This page explains in detail what you need to know about the UKVI IELTS test.

Speak to WMYV immigration lawyers if you need support or advice with any UK visa application. We are on hand to assist you and give you the support you need.

Guide to the IELTS for UKVI Test

The IELTS for UKVI is a type of English language test accepted by the Home Office as part of visa applications requiring a minimum level of English language skills.

Unless you are exempt, you must show proof of passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) as part of the application process for the following UK visas and immigration routes:

  • Innovator Visa
  • Start-up Visa
  • Skilled Worker Visa
  • Minister of Religion Visa
  • Student Visa

The above visas require a test of your skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

The following immigration routes require a test that assesses your skills in speaking and listening only:

  • Sportsperson Visa
  • Representative of an Overseas Business
  • Spouse Visa or Partner Visa
  • Parent Visa
  • Indefinite leave to remain (settlement)
  • British citizenship

What score do I need for my UK visa?

You must reach a minimum standard to prove your language proficiency. The accepted standard is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

There are six levels on this scale, grouped as follows:

CEFR levelCodeApproximate IELTS score
 C17.0 – 8.0
IndependentB25.5 – 6.5
 B14.0 – 5.0


The required CEFR and IELTS score for each of the above visa or immigration routes is as follows:

UK immigration routeRequired CEFR score Required IELTS score
Innovator VisaB25.5
Start-up VisaB25.5
Skilled Worker VisaB14.0
Minister of Religion VisaB25.5
Student VisaB25.5
Sportsperson VisaA14.0
Representative of an Overseas BusinessA14.0
Family Visa (spouse/ (unmarried)/ partnerA14.0
Family Visa extensionDepends on your first exam ( if A1, the next must be at least A2)Depends on your first exam
Parent VisaA14.0
Indefinite leave to remainB14.0
British citizenshipB14.0

Do you need the IELTS for UKVI test?

Unless exempt, you must take any approved English language test for the purposes of UK visas and immigration (UKVI). IELTS is one type of approved test.

Check the UK government checklist to see if you need to take a test, and if so, which test, and the minimum level you need to achieve.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one type of approved English language test that is accepted by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

The list of approved test providers and approved tests in the UK include:

If you are outside the UK, you may take a test with one of the following approved providers:

Who doesn’t need to prove knowledge of English?

There are several groups of people who are not required to demonstrate knowledge of English as part of their immigration applications.

Some of the exemption reasons include:

  • You are aged 65 years or older
  • You are unable to do an English exam due to a long-term physical or mental condition
  • You are a citizen of a country where English is a primary language
  • You have an academic degree that was taught or researched in English

There are some additional exemptions if you are applying for indefinite leave to remain (only):

  • You are a victim of domestic violence and your partner is a British citizen or settled person
  • You are the spouse of a British citizen/ settled person who has since died
  • You are an adult dependent relative aged between 18 and 64 years old and your British relative is living in the UK/ is a refugee or holds humanitarian protection
  • You are a refugee living in the UK
  • You hold discretionary leave in the UK
  • You have humanitarian protection
  • You have permission to stay as a retired person of independent means
  • You are a Commonwealth citizen on discharge from HM Forces
  • You have been deemed to have exceptional circumstances

If you are uncertain whether you need proof of an English language test, speak to an immigration lawyer at WMYV for expert advice about your situation.

Types of IELTS for UKVI test

The IELTS for UKVI is one type of exam that people can take to demonstrate their English language level.

However, there are number of IELTS tests. It is important to be choose the correct exam as required by UKVI.

The two primary types of IELTS exam are:

  • IELTS Academic
  • IELTS General Training

Within these categories exist the UKVI-specific exams:

  • IELTS for UKVI (Academic)
  • IELTS for UKVI (General Training)
  • IELTS Life Skills
Should I take the IELTS for UKVI (Academic), IELTS for UKVI (General Training) exam or IELTS Life Skills?

Below is an explanation of who the IELTS exams are for:

  • IELTS for UKVI (Academic): For individuals intending to study (at degree level or above) or work within a UK organisation with a requirement for this exam
  • IELTS for UKVI (General Training): For individuals who want to migrate to the UK for the purposes of studying (below degree level) or working
  • IELTS Life Skills A1: For people proving that they have the required level of speaking and listening skills
  • IELTS Life Skills B1: For people submitting an application for settlement in the UK

If you intend to study in the UK, the decision tree below may help test takers decide the type of exam to take for your circumstances.

  • Do you need a Student Visa?
    1. YES: Are you studying at degree level or above?
    2. YES: Are you studying with a Higher Education Institution with a Sponsor Licence?
    3. YES: You may not be required to take an IELTS exam (depending on your university) or alternatively, an IELTS Academic exam
  • Do you need a Student Visa?
    1. YES: Are you studying at degree level or above?
    2. NO: You will need to take the IELTS for UKVI (Academic) exam
  • Do you need a Student Visa?
    1. YES: Are you studying at degree level or above?
    2. YES: Are you studying with a Higher Education Institution with a Sponsor Licence?
    3. NO: You will need to take the IELTS for UKVI (Academic) exam

What does a IELTS for UKVI sample test look like?

Depending on the type of test you take, the test structure will vary.

The Academic and General Training IELTS exams will generally be structured like this:

  • Listening: Four sections, lasting 30 minutes, assessing your skills in understanding ideas, opinions, and attitudes
  • Reading: Three texts taken from current sources, 40 questions ranging from identifying information, matching headings, and summarising
  • Writing: Two texts (one lasting about 20 minutes with 150-word minimum, the second lasts 40 minutes, with a 250-word minimum)
  • Speaking: Three parts, 11-15 minutes in length. The first part involves questions about yourself and your life. The second part is speaking about a topic for two minutes based on a prompt. The third is a conversation based on the topic

You can use the IELTS website to take sample tests to practice.

How much does the IELTS for UKVI exam cost?

The cost of the IELTS exams in 2023 are:

  • IELTS Academic and General Training: Between £175 and £195, depending on where you apply from
  • IELTS for UKVI (Academic and General Training): £195
  • IELTS Life Skills (A1, A2, and B1): £155

It is recommended to carefully choose the correct exam type based on your circumstances and your goals.

You must bring a valid form of identification with you to your exam (i.e., passport or national identity card).

As well as this, you should check where your nearest test centre is before booking your exam to ensure that you will be able to travel on the date(s) of your tests.

How long does it take to get my IELTS results?

You can get your UKVI IELTS exam results within three to five days of your test if you sat the exam on a computer.

If you submitted a paper-based test, you can expect to receive results approximately 13 days after your test.

Your IELTS Life Skills results will be available on the first Wednesday after your test.

You can check your IELTS test results on the IELTS website and by inputting your details.

Remember that the results will be available online for 28 days after publishing. You will receive your code by official letter and/ or email.

The result will be called the Test Report Form (TRF) and this is what you will need for your visa application.

Our Application service can give you that extra peace of mind about your application.

How can We Manage Your Visas help?

Obtaining an English Language qualification can be complicated; it is often difficult to know which UK visas require applicants to meet English Language requirements and to what level.

Our expert immigration lawyers can offer you detailed advice on the English Language requirements you need to meet, whether you are applying for Entry Clearance, UK Settlement or Asylum.

Your lawyer can talk you through everything that is expected of you, how you should prepare and the kind of content which will be covered in each section of the IELTS UKVI test.

Our immigration lawyers can help you practice your IELTS test. WMYV have specially designed English test for citizenship practice tests. Our lawyers can use these to help you prepare to meet your English Language requirements.

Get in touch online or call for advice about your specific English Language requirements. Our immigration solicitors are based are here to help.

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