IELTS for immigration and visa application to the UK

What are the changes?

If you are travelling to or staying in the UK, there is an IELTS test for you.

In addition to the IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic tests, which you may already know, there are the IELTS Life Skills and UKVI tests.

IELTS Life Skills is aimed at candidates who need to provide evidence of language skills in speaking and listening at levels A1 and B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This is a single section test which will measure two skills: speaking and listening.

Face-to-face test on Verbal Communication and Listening Comprehension

The test is presented with one examiner and one other candidate.

The IELTS Life Skills exercises are designed to reflect the everyday experience of communicating in an English-speaking country. The candidate is expected to participate in short discussions on everyday topics, such as:

  • Personal information/experiences
  • Shopping
  • Work
  • Health
  • Hobbies
  • Education / Training
  • Transport
  • Housing
  • Climate

IELTS UKVI (Academic or General Training) is aimed at candidates who will be undertaking a visa process in the UK.

Available in CD IELTS and Paper Based.

For more information on immigration and UK visas, visit:

Guidance on applying for a UK visa: approved English language tests.

The IELTS Life Skills approach

At each level, the test is designed to determine whether you can listen and respond, clarify meaning and/or talk to other people.

The candidate is expected to be able to:

  • Listen and respond to oral communication, including simple narratives, statements, questions and one-step instructions.
  • Convey basic information, feelings and opinions on familiar topics.
  • Give opinions
  • give personal information
  • express preferences
  • comment
  • Asking for information or descriptions
  • Expressing agreement or disagreement
  • Explaining, giving reasons or justifying
  • Decide / Suggest / Choose
  • Describe

In addition to the A1 tasks above, B1 tasks may include:

  • Listening and responding to oral communication, including simple information and narratives and following explanations and instructions.
  • Conveying information, feelings and opinions on familiar topics in an appropriate tone.
  • Talking to one or more people in a familiar situation giving relevant contributions and responding to what others say in order to reach acommon understanding on familiar topics.
  • Compare, contrast, explain reasons, causes and objectives.
  • Prioritise / Plan / Persuade / Narrate.
  • Ask about events in the past and future.
  • Expressing possibility and certainty about the future.

Frequently Asked Questions (Candidates)

IELTS Test for Visas and Immigration to the UK

For visa applications to the UK, you may need to have English language certification. Both IELTS and IELTS Life Skills/IELTS UKVI are included in the list of Secure English Language Tests (known as SELT by the UK Home Office) and on the Office of Standards and Qualifications Assessment and Regulation (OFQUAL) register.
It is recommended that you check all the requirements for your visa directly on the UK government’s website.
To find out which exam you need, the level and version, it is recommended that you contact the UK Visas and Immigration Department, UKVI, directly. Enquiry: Guidance on Applying for UK Visa – approved English language tests.

For reference you can consult the table here

Those who are in the process of applying for a Tier 4 visa through an HTS Sponsor to study an undergraduate or postgraduate course need to have the level of English required by the institution. All UK universities and higher education institutions accept IELTS results. This means that you do not need to take the IELTS test under the specified UKVI condition, unless requested by your institution. For more information visit

If you wish to use an IELTS or IELTS Life Skills/EILTS UKVI test result to integrate with your visa application (except for some student visa classes), you may need to take the test at a centre specifically authorised by UK Visas and Immigration for this purpose, and the test must be taken under specific conditions determined by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
Once you have taken the test you should receive a Test Report Form which shows that you have taken the necessary test for UKVI to meet UKVI requirements.

For IELTS and IELTS Life Skills/IELTS UKVI, available dates can be checked with one of our advisors at (link to form). The frequency of IELTS and IELTS Life Skills/IELTS UKVI tests for immigration and visa processing varies by location.

There are no restrictions on taking the IELTS test. You can register for a test as soon as you feel ready to take it.
NOTE: For IELTS Life Skills candidates only – Candidates who have previously taken the IELTS Life Skills test and passed are not allowed to retake the test for a period of TWO YEARS.

For example, a candidate who has taken IELTS Life Skills A1 and passed, will not be allowed to take another Life Skills A1 for less than two years. Likewise, another candidate who has taken IELTS Life Skills B1 and passed, will not be allowed to take another Life Skills B1 test within 2 years.

The IELTS test for visa purposes is intended to meet certain administrative requirements that are specified by the United Kingdom Visas and Immigration Department (UKVI). The Test Report Forms will be slightly different to reflect that candidates have taken the test in a UK Visa IELTS session. The test is actually the same: same content, same examiners, same format, same level of difficulty and same scores.

If I take the IELTS test for visa purposes, can I use my result in other countries for other purposes?

If you took the IELTS test on or before 5 April 2015, you may have been able to use it up to 5 November 2015. We recommend that you confirm this information with UKVI before you complete your application.
From 6 January 2015 you must take the test at an official IELTS test centre authorised by UKVI to administer IELTS tests for immigration and visa purposes, so you must confirm at the time of registration that you wish to use the test for visa purposes.

For more information about IELTS Life Skills, please visit:

IELTS Life Skills is a test which measures two skills: speaking and listening.

It is available in CEFR at A1 level and B1 level.

It is designed to meet the requirements for UK visa and migration processing for people applying as:

  • family member of a person with a resident visa
  • permanent stay (residence) or citizenship

To find out where you need to take the IELTS Life Skills test and the level you need to achieve, you should contact the UK Visas and Immigration Department (UKVI). For more information, visit: Guidance on Applying for UK Visa – approved English language tests.

You take the test with another candidate and an Examiner. Your own performance, both in interaction and listening comprehension, will be tested during the time of the session.

This test has been designed to meet immigration requirements for which candidates need only demonstrate listening and interaction skills.

IELTS Life Skills at CEFR A1 level lasts 16-18 minutes and at B1 level 22 minutes.

No, Speaking and Listening are assessed at the same time.

A certified IELTS examiner will assess your performance throughout the test, based on the following criteria:

  • Obtain information
  • Conveying information
  • Speaking to communicate
  • Conversing

The performance of the other candidate with whom you are paired during IELTS Life Skills does not affect your personal assessment of your own performance.

Free samples of the test are available to candidates.

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

Results are available, usually within 7 days after the date of the test.

Frequently Asked Questions

The candidate’s skills are assessed in four key areas:

  • Obtaining information
  • Conveying information
  • Speaking to communicate
  • Participating in a discussion

In some parts of the exam, you are allowed to take notes to prepare your answers. During this exam, the examiner will not mark your notes – only your ability to express yourself verbally and to understand.

IELTS Life Skills is available for levels A1 and B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This is an international standardised scale used worldwide to describe a student’s language ability.

There are two main parts to IELTS Life Skills:

In the first part you have to ask and answer questions on familiar topics. In the second part, there is an activity to do which is a combination of listening and speaking. At A1 and B1 levels, you will listen to a listening activity from a record. By doing the activity, you can demonstrate your ability to listen for general meaning and detail. You have to give your answer orally although you can make notes on paper while listening to the record. Then there is a discussion on a topic related to the one you have listened to on the disc. In addition to this, in the B1 exam, there is an assignment in which you have to plan an activity with the other candidate.

IELTS Life Skills tests your ability to communicate with other people in everyday English. The best way to assess this skill is to have candidates work in pairs with candidates who have similar skill levels, so that you can then demonstrate how well you speak English to communicate and participate in discussions with others.

For IELTS Life Skills you only need to attend one short session to complete the test. The times allowed for each level are:

IELTS Life Skills – A1 Listening and Speaking 16-18 minutes

IELTS Life Skills – B1 Listening and Speaking 22 minutes

To support you in finding a suitable date and registering for the IELTS Life Skills test:

Test results are normally available within seven (7) days after your test.

You should receive one of two results:

  • Pass
  • Not Passed.

Fail means that you have been unsuccessful and your test cannot be used for your visa application.

IELTS tests are valid for visas and immigration procedures.

IELTS Academic version
IELTS General Training

The IELTS test you take, and the score you need, will depend on both your visa requirements and/or those of the institution where you plan to study or work.

IELTS Academic

The IELTS Academic Module measures the English language proficiency required in an academic, higher education environment. The exercises and texts are accessible to everyone, regardless of your subject of study.
The IELTS Academic module is, broadly speaking, for those who wish to study or take courses at a university where English is taught at undergraduate or postgraduate level, or at graduate and postgraduate educational institutions. Many professions (medicine, nursing, accountancy, engineering) also require results from the Academic version of the test for registration purposes in a number of countries.