Speak to a person contemplating immigration or study overseas and ask them to point out one required step in the entire screening process that they would like to skip. Most of them are bound to answer that they would prefer to escape the IELTS test, if possible. This is because IELTS test not only adds on additional expenses to their immigration procedure but also requires them to devote a good amount of time for the preparation of the test. In immigration to certain destinations and under some specific programs, like Australia General skilled migration program, the immigration programs require that both the principal applicant and their spouse appear for the IELTS test as well. While this makes the Immigration process more expensive and tougher, what applicants do not realize is the fact that IELTS test is only for their benefit. Read further and find out how?
Is it unfair?
There are applicants who excel in the occupational field of their specialisation and find it unfair that the decision on their immigration application is not dependent on their occupational excellence alone but also on their language skills. This is based on the observation that others who might have not achieved the same level of occupational excellence as theirs but have fluency in the English language are granted the immigration visa easily.
Students planning to study overseas have the same concerns. In their opinion, the deciding factor for course and university selection should be the marks scored by them at their school or university level and IELTS puts them at a disadvantage to others who have better language skills.
Importance of IELTS test
So why has the IELTS test become such an integral part of the immigration applications for almost all Immigration destinations and programs? And why are the applicants made to undergo the strenuous IELTS preparation process and spend huge amount of funds in undergoing these tests? More importantly, what we need to think about is, why is it that no options are provided for applicants who are unable to qualify through this test?
Earlier system of assessing English language skills
The reason is that English language skills have always been a key selection criterion under the points based system, from the very start. In the past the Immigration officers used to take one-to-one interview to judge the English language skills of the applicant and decide how many points they would like to credit to the applicant.
But this kind of system created animosities and unfair situations, for both Visa processing office and immigration applicants. There are several reasons why this system of evaluation of language skills of the applicants is replaced by the IELTS test.
Firstly, the immigration processing delays soared high as the visa officers must take all interviews on an individual basis to take the decision about each of the applicant. When seen in context of queues of thousands of applicants, this meant years of additional processing delays. Secondly, this made the language skills assessment highly subjective as it was based on understanding of the visa officer conducting the interview.
Also, in conducting such one to one interviews, the Immigrant applicant could not be tested for all key areas of language proficiency, that includes Understanding, Reading, speaking and listening.
Introduction of IELTS
Need was therefore felt for an objective test that was internationally acceptable, standardised benchmark and assessment tool. Standardisation was very important so as to provide equal opportunity to all applicants. Thus, IELTS became an integral part of the immigration process and applications, especially for skilled professionals, independent immigration, General skilled Migrant and in some cases Green card visa applications as well. IELTS test is thereby based on evaluating applicant’s skills in all four components of the language, including speaking, listening, understanding and reading.
IELTS is thereby also made an important requirement for students who opt to study overseas to majority of popular destinations, like Canada, Australia, UK, USA and New Zealand. Language is clearly one key area that can and does create difficult situations, especially when applicants do not have English as their primary language and have never had exposure to international language accents.
For students who are not very fluent in the language, it can literally turn out to be a nightmare as they land in a course and university where they cannot understand the instructions and are unable to communicate with teachers and rest of the peer group. Add to that, the expenses of staying away from home along with expensive overseas education.
The IELTS test thereby gives an opportunity to all such immigrants to avert any such difficult situation and check on their language skill levels, before they select the course and university for studying abroad. Most of the international educational institutions offer Language development courses for international students, who are not very fluent with the language. The students can first take such foundation and language developments courses for specified period and then they are permitted to take admission into the course of their choice.
So, IELTS test is an objective English language assessment tool that is internationally acceptable by Government and immigration educational institutions agencies alike. It has therefore become an essential part of the Immigration visa process and for study overseas applicants. Hence, an applicant is advised to prepare well, if they wish to earn some points by scoring well in various test modules. Seeking advice from an immigration expert is a wise decision to give a direction to your IELTS preparation as well as your immigration process, in general.