What is UKVI?


IELTS for UKVI is an official UK government-approved English language test that can be used in support of a UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) application.


The only language qualifications that are accepted by the UK government for your visa application are Secure English Language Tests (SELT tests).


Test takers wishing to obtain a visa can choose from any of the following: (Here is the complete list as of 2020):

  • IELTS Life Skills provided by IELTS SELT Consortium (A1, A2, B1)
  • IELTS for UKVI provided by IELTS SELT Consortium (B1, B2, C1, C2)
  • Integrated Skills in English by Trinity College London (A2, B1, B2, C1, C2)
  • Pearson PTE Home (A1, A2, B1)
  • Pearson PTE Academic UKVI (A2, B1, B2, C1, C2)
  • GESE provided by Trinity College London (A1, A2, B1)
  • ESOL SELT by LanguageCert International (Speaking & Listening) (A1, A2, B1)
  • ESOL SELT by LanguageCert International (Speaking, Listening, Reading & Writing) (B1, B2, C1,C2)


Where can you take IELTS UKVI or Life Skills test for a UK visa application? 


Test takers have fewer options in regards to location - the tests centres are not as widespread as the normal IELTS test centres.


IELTS for UKVI tests have to meet specific administrative requirements outlined by the UK Home Office as it is a secure English language test.


Therefore the test centre has to be a UKVI approved test centre.


Test takers wishing to do their test in the UK can find certified UKVI centres following this link.


There are currently 110 UKVI test centres, to find the nearest one to you please use the search here at the official IELTS site.


In India, as of December 2020, you can take the test in Hyderabad, Jalandhar, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin, Goa, New Delhi and Pune.



IELTS for UKVI (Academic) on computer

Remember that IELTS for UKVI academic can also be taken on the computer. This is ideal for candidates who prefer to type rather than write by hand.


You can also take the IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration (Academic) on computer at the following locations:

Bangladesh Malaysia Taiwan
Brazil Nigeria Thailand
China Pakistan Turkey
India Philippines UAE
Japan Saudi Arabia United Kingdom
Kuwait South Korea  

There are multiple test locations in these countries and the number of locations is always expanding. On this British Council page, you can find the most up to date list.


Requirements to work in UK


The UK visas and immigration process can be very complex. To work in the UK you need a visa and like Canada and Australia, UK visas are all points-based. You will get points for having a bachelor or postgraduate degree, for your IELTS for UKVI academic results, for your work experience and other qualifications.


In summary the more skills or money you can bring to the UK the more points you get.


Also, if the skills you possess are deemed in short supply in the UK then it will be easier.


Workers seeking professional registration may require a certain level of English in order to do this and their IELTS academic results, if high enough, will help them find a good position.


If you are just starting your UKVI journey I would recommend taking this UK government produced quiz to determine what visa you need before deciding on a test location and arranging a test date.


What IELTS test score do you need for each visa?

There are different requirements for each visa type - check carefully because some UK visas require you to have a minimum score in all four skills, while other UK visas require a minimum band 4 for speaking and listening skills only.


Chart info adapted from the official IELTS UKVI UK visas FAQ brochure.


Tier 1 

Graduate Entrepreneur visa


IELTS – 4.0 overall, and for each of the four skills

Tier 2

General visa


IELTS – 7.0 overall, and for each of the four skills

Tier 2

Sportsperson visa


IELTS – 4.0 overall, and for each of the four skills

Tier 2

Minister of Religion visa


IELTS – 5.5 overall, and for each of the four skills


Tier 4

General student visa – below degree level only when required


IELTS – 4.0 overall, and for each of the four skills

Please check with the university or college you are applying to because they may require a higher band score for the course you want to start.
Tier 4

General student visa – below degree level only when required


IELTS – 4 overall, and for each of the four skills
Family of a settled person visa IELTS for UKVI - 4.0 in Speaking and Listening
Indefinite leave to remain (to settle) or citizenship IELTS for UKVI - 4.0 in Speaking and Listening

Please check with the university or college you are applying to because they may require a higher band score for the course you want to start. Colleges accept IELTS results at different levels depending on the subjects studied.

British Universities all put entry information on their websites and you can find out the exact score required for the course you want to do at undergraduate or postgraduate levels - it is usually at least 5.5, and for the top universities can be an overall 7.0 or more. Test takers wishing to apply for a specific university should aim for that score as a minimum.

EU workers and Brexit requirements


From 1 January 2021, the UK will start a points-based system whereby EU and non-EU citizens are treated equally.


Skills and talent are prioritised over a person's country of origin.



What are the requirements to study in the UK?

What are the requirements to study in the UK?

There are four visas students can apply for depending on their situation.


- Student visa

These are available for English speaking students if you are over 16 and have an offer from a licensed student sponsor or have enough money to support yourself.

You will need to be able to speak, read, write and understand English and have consent from your parents if you are 16 or 17. 


- Child Student visa

This is for English speaking children between 4 and 17, who want to study at an independent school in the UK. 

They must have access to enough money to support themselves, have an offer from a school and consent from parents.


- Study English in the UK (Short-term study visa)

This visa is for studying English with courses that exceed 6 months, with a maximum of up to 11 months.


This visa costs £186 and also requires a surcharge of £470 so that you can use the NHS while in the UK. 

How much does it cost?


In most cases, you are not allowed to work on your student visa so you need to have proof you have enough money to support yourself while in the UK.


The amount will also depend on where you are studying and your circumstances.


There are also fees related to applying for each visa, and fees for extending or switching visas. 


You will need to pay an NHS surcharge also, as mentioned above. 


Is there a difference in test format between IELTS and IELTS for UKVI?

The content, examiners and format are all the same as the standard IELTS test.


The Test Report Forms are slightly different to show the test was taken at an English speaking UKVI authorised centre.


A test report form from a British Council centre in India, for example, will look the same as a test report form from IELTS Vietnam or IELTS Australia.


On the left, you can see that the UKVI test report has a cell that will contain the UKVI centre number.

This number is the only difference between the forms.



Practice test and resources for UKVI IELTS


Students wishing to find free resources have a lot of options, thanks to the following useful websites: because UKVI IELTS is largely the same as the standard IELTS test we recommend these places:


Scribd has lots of practice papers uploaded by former and current IELTS students. Click here to see the search results.


The official British Council IELTS site is definitely a good place to start, however, the amount of sample tests there is rather limited. You can find an official sample test here. There are also a lot of British Council resources on Youtube.


We also recommend the official Cambridge IELTS books which have IELTS general training and IELTS academic practice tests.


They are said to be more challenging than the actual test.

Due to the cost of the test, over-preparation is strongly advised.


Get the latest IELTS academic and IELTS general training books from Amazon here.


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Since 2015 we have had over 3 million podcast downloads. The Youtube channel has over 40,000 subscribers.


IELTSPodcast offers an online IELTS course to help students prepare for the IELTS exam. Contact us for help with IELTS writing, speaking and reading.

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