English Language Tests for the Skilled Worker visa
Head of Immigration Imelda Reddington considers the English language requirements of the Skilled Worker visa and provides some much-needed clarity as to the specific tests that a migrant needs to pass.
To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, an applicant must evidence their understanding of the English language by passing an approved International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test.
This requirement only applies to applicants from non-English speaking countries who are aged over 18 and under 65. If the applicant has a degree, masters or PhD taught or researched in English then this will usually suffice in place of the test.
Applicants under the Skilled Worker visa route must pass a comprehensive IELTS test specifically for UKVI covering speaking, listening, reading and writing, passing each facet at the required level. This should be distinguished from those tests which cover speaking and listening only – passing a speaking and listening test will not be sufficient for the English language requirements of the Skilled Worker visa!
The new Global Business Mobility routes do not have any English language requirement, which makes them particularly attractive for UK sponsors looking to bring in overseas workers on a medium-term basis. You can read more about these routes here.
What Level of Test?
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level of test that an applicant will need to pass will also depend on the visa route they are applying for. These CEFR levels range from A1 (“Breakthrough”) all the way up to C2 (“Mastery”) – although none of the UK visa routes require a C2 level. The Skilled Worker visa requires the applicant to pass a test at CEFR level B1.
Applicants must take the approved English language test relevant to their visa route at an approved test location, within two years before the date of their application.
For Skilled Worker applications, the approved tests, include:
- IELTS SELT Consortium
- IELTS for UKVI (Academic)
- IELTS for UKVI (General Training)
- LanguageCert International ESOL SELT
- Pearson PTE Academic UKVI
- PSI Service (UK) Ltd (outside UK only)
- Skills for English UKVI (4 component)
- Trinity College London (in UK only)
- Integrated Skills in English
IELTS offers an IELTS for UKVI (Academic) test and an IELTS for UKVI (General Training) test. The Academic test contains topics suitable for anyone entering university or a professional institution, while the General Training test features topics of general interest. An applicant for a Skilled Worker visa may pass either of these. However, from our experience, we would recommend that applicants for the Skilled Worker visa take the IELTS for UKVI (Academic) test, as we have had reports of applicants encountering issues when they try to use their IELTS for UKVI (General Training) results as evidence that they meet the English language requirements.
Please note that, if you take a test through IELTS SELT Consortium, you must take one of the “for UKVI” tests – the normal IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests will not be accepted by the Home Office.
If you have any questions about the English language requirements or tests, or if you have any queries about the Skilled Worker visa or UK visa routes more generally, please get in contact with our immigration team at: [email protected]