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IELTS for UKVI: Moving to the UK

Published on December 10, 2019

Moving to a new country can be a daunting experience but, if you have the right information upfront, the transition can be a lot smoother. The UK’s thriving economy, sophisticated education and healthcare systems, and rich cultural diversity make it the first choice for many people wanting to move abroad.

If you are thinking about moving to the UK, read on to find out how IELTS, an approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) by the UK Home Office, can get you there. And whether you choose to study, work or migrate what you need to know when moving to the UK.

Study in the UK

The UK is home to some of the best universities in the world – from Oxford to Cambridge and those that glide under the radar, such as the University of Edinburgh. If you are looking to study in the UK, you’ll be happy to hear that most British universities and colleges accept IELTS for UKVI (Academic) results. Check out our Who accepts IELTS scores page for more information on the IELTS score you need to be able to study at particular institutions. The UK Government visa checklist is also useful to see if IELTS for UKVI is the test for you.

Work in the UK

Keen to work in the UK and uncover what it’s like to live like a local? The UK home office has a set list of occupations in shortage, so if you are an engineer or scientist and are looking to move to the UK, you might be in luck. Other occupations that are currently on this list, include:

  • Geologist
  • Hydrogeologist
  • Biological scientist
  • Biochemist
  • Civil Engineer
  • Systems designer
  • Nurse

The IELTS score you need will vary depending on the occupation in question, check the UK Government visa checklist to see which visa and IELTS for UKVI test apply to you.

Migrate to the UK

If work or study is outside the reasons why you might move to the UK and you want to take the family route as a spouse, partner or parent, you might need to provide evidence of your English skills. And in this case, IELTS Life Skills might be the route you take. But to be safe, check the UK Government visa checklist.

When in the UK

We’ve had a look at the types of IELTS for UKVI tests that can get you to the UK, let’s take a closer to look at what day-to-day life might look like.

Fun in the UK

The UK is the sixth-largest economy in the world, with London as the central economic hub. Leading on from its multicultural nature, good food is easy to find no matter what corner of the UK you are in. If you are after some good British cuisine, fish and chips on the rocky shores of Brighton is a must-do.

The UK’s connected nature makes travel across-country and aboard easy. Stunning castles, historic houses, quaint pubs and thriving music, arts and theatre scene means you will never be left bored. The visit Great Britain website offers endless inspiration in sightseeing the UK.

Looking after your health in the UK

On a more serious note, UK has a solid healthcare system called the National Health Service (NHS). International students, for example can easily access to the NHS once they pay for the International Health Surcharge (IHS). You can use the government’s immigration health surcharge calculator to work out if the surcharge applies to you and how much you might need to pay.

Which IELTS for UKVI is best for me?

So, I hear you ask, which IELTS for UKVI test is best for me? IELTS for UKVI has a number test options available and depending on the visa you require, may be any of the following:

  • IELTS for UKVI (Academic) 
  • IELTS for UKVI (General Training) 
  • IELTS Life Skills A1 
  • IELTS Life Skills A2
  • ELTS Life Skills B1 

And remember to double check as to which IELTS test applies to you, the UK Government visa checklist is helpful in finding out whether you need to take an approved English Language Test, what band score you need to achieve and which IELTS test you need to take.

For IELTS preparation materials, join an IELTS Masterclass, complete IELTS Progress Check to see how you are tracking or check out the the IELTS practice materials.

Who needs IELTS for UKVI?

IELTS for UKVI is an approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) for visa applications to the UK. You need a valid English Language test for UK Visa score to study, work or migrate to the UK. If you wish to get a UK Spouse Visa, you will need a valid UKVI IELTS score.

What are the different IELTS for UKVI tests you can take?

Academic, General and Life Skills are the three IELTS for UKVI test types currently available.

Test type

Who needs to take it?

IELTS Academic
  • Applicable for test takers who want to study at Undergraduate or Post-graduate levels in UK.
  • Applicable for test takers who seek professional registration in UK.
IELTS General Training
  • Applicable for test takers willing to migrate to the UK under certain visa categories.
  • Applicable for test takers who want to train or study below degree level.
IELTS Life Skills A1
  • Applicable for test takers who want to apply for ‘family of settled person’ visas.
IELTS Life Skills A2
  • Applicable for test takers who want to apply for an extension to family, spouse or partner visa.                 
IELTS Life Skills B1
  • Applicable for test takers who want to apply for indefinite leave to remain or citizenship.

Using your IELTS for UKVI test results

You must take an IELTS for UKVI test to apply for any visas in the UK. Your IELTS for UKVI General Training or IELTS for UKVI Academic scores can be used to apply for study, work or migration visas across the globe. You however cannot use IELTS General Training or IELTS Academic scores to apply for a UK Visa.


You might be asking, what is the difference between an IELTS test and an IELTS for UKVI test? The IELTS for UKVI tests are taken at a UKVI approved test centre and must meet the administrative requirements outlined by the UK Home Office. To show that the test was taken in an UKVI approved test centre, the Test Report Form (TRF) will look slightly different. Nevertheless, the test format of IELTS for UKVI is the same as the other IELTS tests: content, format, scoring and level of difficulty.

Immigration and the law

Legislation about immigration in the UK changes frequently. It’s important to check the UK Visa and Immigration website for changes that may apply to you. If you are interested in UK student visas, work visas, or looking for an indefinite leave to remain, you need to lodge an application with the UK Visa and Immigration Department. You may want to consider getting support from a lawyer or migration agent. You may also be able to get free advice for student visas .

IELTS for UKVI update: December 2019

A UK Visa and Immigration change has come into effect in December 2019. If you plan to apply for a visa to the UK under the following category, read on to find out how it can affect you.

Working in Healthcare

If you wish to practice in the UK, the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) accepts IELTS for UKVI Academic test scores. And to be able to work in the UK, you can now use a single English language test for your UK visa application. Check the GMC website and the NMC website for the most up to date information on their English language requirements. For more information on UK Visa requirements, visit the UK immigration website .