UK’s is an acceptable qualification for further studies with other countries. Even though the duration of the program is one year, the contact hours are at par with other countries like USA, Australia etc.
The content, program and examination pattern are all similar to IELTS. The only change is the security at the examination venue. In secured IELTS you are examined directly by Cambridge staff and not by an examiner appointed by them
It is possible to get an offer letter with English requirement waiver from the Universities based on your past academic records. However it is certainly advisable to file your visa documents with IELTS ( SELTS )
There are primarily two intake and they are Sept and Jan of every year. The entire process from admission to Visa would take appox 4 months. It is advisable to commence your process a min of 4 months before the commencement date of the program.