IELTS approved for use in UK immigration system

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Chennai, Mar 12 (UNI) IELTS, an international test for English run by educators in Australia and the UK has been approved for use in the UK immigration system.

IELTS has attracted over 938,000 candidates in 2007, and entries have almost doubled in the last three years, driven by university entrance requirements, new immigration policies and professional recognition throughout the English-speaking world, according to a release from the British Council here today.

The test has now been granted approval for use in the UK's new points-based immigration system.

From the end of February this year, the UK Home Office was implementing a new points-based immigration system for all non-EU nationals.

The new system groups potential immigrants into five ''tiers.'' The recent approval of IELTS certificates is for Tier 1- highly skilled migrants such as doctors, scientists or entrepreneurs, which would replace the existing Highly-Skilled Migrant Programme.

As part of the application process, applicants are required to provide evidence of their English language abilities. The government has now approved IELTS at a band score 6.5 and above as suitable to verify that ability.

At Tier 1, applicants need to demonstrate English language skills equivalent to level C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

The IELTS test was a key element of the British Council's English language work overseas. It is already recognised by educational institutions, employers, organisations and government agencies in over 68 countries, and recognition has grown significantly through 2007.

IELTS is now used by over 6,000 organisations worldwide, with recognition in the US now topping 1,300 institutions.

British Council CEL Martin Davidson said ''IELTS has now been granted approval for use in the UK's new points-based immigration system and that IELTS has succeeded in reaching almost a million candidates in 2007. It is clearly one of the world's leading international English language exams. The British Council now offers IELTS in approximately 400 locations in 101 different countries.'' UNI SNR SY HT1411

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