Can IELTS Academic be Used for Immigration?

As you probably know, IELTS Academic is used for acceptance to universities. But can IELTS Academic be used for immigration too?

IELTS Academic vs. IELTS General Training for Immigration

First, you should be aware that IELTS General Training is specifically designed for immigration purposes. Compared to the Academic version, General Training’s Reading and Writing sections contain tasks that are more relevant to the English everyday work and life.

IELTS Academic is less geared toward the daily work and life that immigrants face in the English-speaking world. Instead, the Reading and Writing activities are more oriented toward academic English.

For this reason, IELTS Academic may not prepare you quite as well for the immigrant experience. That being said, there are ways you can use this test for immigration, under certain circumstances.

So Can IELTS Academic be Used for Immigration Purposes? Yes, if You’re A Medical Professional

Are you applying for a skilled migrant visa as a medical professional? If so, you’ll be asked to take the IELTS Academic, rather than General Training.

The IELTS Academic exam is used to grant visas to a wide variety of healthcare workers. Doctors and nurses are given the academic version of the test for immigration. So are nursing assistants, pharmacists, speech-language pathologists, and so on. Some countries even give the IELTS Academic exam to medical lab technicians.

(For more information, see my post on IELTS for medical professionals.)

Do You Need to Take IELTS General Training to Stay In-Country After Your Degree?

Suppose you’ve just graduated university in a country such as Australia, Canada, the U.S., Ireland, etc…. And suppose you now want to stay in-country and get a job.

You took IELTS Academic to get into school. Do you now need to take IELTS General Training to switch to long-term immigration? Don’t worry — you probably don’t.

All the major English speaking countries allow international students to pursue work after graduation, as an extension of their initial student visa. The policies on how to do this vary from country to country. But generally, working in-country after graduation doesn’t require any new English testing.

This is an indirect way of using IELTS Academic to immigrate. If the Academic version of the test can get you into school, you won’t need General Training for long-term immigration later. If you’re near graduation or have just graduated, talk to your university’s international education office. They can help you explore your long-term work and immigration options.

The Takeaway

Obviously, IELTS Academic isn’t as “immigration friendly” as IELTS General Training. But Academic will give you some opportunities that you can’t get with a General Training score. And at the same time, General Training opens certain doors that IELTS Academic won’t.

If you’re considering going overseas, but you aren’t yet sure how you want to do that, it may be good to take both exams? IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training are similar in many ways. Qualifying scores in the two versions of the IELTS can give you many options when you go abroad.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!