New Virginia laws improve expedited licensure process for military spouses
Gov. Ralph Northam ceremonially signed legislation Thursday that will expedite the occupational and professional licensure process for military spouses.
The governor signed the legislation during a special ceremony that kicked off the quarterly Virginia Military Advisory Council meeting. Joining the governor at the event at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond were Blue Star Families CEO and Board President Kathy Roth-Douquet, Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, State Sen. David Suetterlein, Del. Rodney Willett, and Del. Carrie Coyner.
Watch the video of today’s event here.
“As an Army veteran and as a Virginian, I am committed to ensuring the Commonwealth continues to provide an environment where our veterans and military families can thrive,” said Northam. “Complex rules about license equivalence and the portability of certifications too often result in the unemployment or underemployment of military spouses. This legislation will enable the spouses of the men and women who serve our country to maintain their professional licenses and continue their careers in Virginia with a streamlined and simple process.”
Northam was also joined by representatives of the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission to sign a Regional Intergovernmental Support Agreement that will improve the delivery of resources to their military installations in Northern Virginia.
The support agreement strengthens the partnership between the Department of Transportation, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Marine Corps Installations National Capital Region – Marine Corps Base Quantico, and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall to find opportunities for the use of transportation goods and services throughout the Northern Virginia region.
Virginia’s existing expedited application process for military spouses requires licensing boards to determine if a military spouse’s out-of-state license is equivalent within 20 days and issue an automatic one-year temporary license, affording the spouse the opportunity to begin finding employment immediately upon settling into their new communities.
This legislation and process address the issue of portability of the professional and occupational licenses of military spouses.
House Bill 967, sponsored by Willett and Senate Bill 981, sponsored by Suetterlein, improve Virginia’s expedited licensure process for the spouses of military service members assigned to installations and residing in the Commonwealth by:
- Expanding access and eligibility to the spouses of service members in all surrounding jurisdictions;
- Expanding access to the spouses of National Guardsmen who are active on federal orders to deploy oversees;
- Expanding eligibility to the spouses of recently transitioned service members; and
- Granting the Commonwealth’s licensing boards greater authority to determine a substantially equivalent license.
“This enhanced process will help our military spouses find employment opportunities quicker and without the stress of worrying if their credentials will carry over to Virginia,” said Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos L. Hopkins. “Implementing innovative ways to support our military families is one of the reasons Virginia continually ranks as one of the best states for service members, veterans, and their families.”
“Military spouses were hobbled before COVID-19, and our research forecasts that military spouse unemployment and underemployment rates could climb upwards of 30 percent and 77 percent, respectively, as we emerge from this public health and economic crisis,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families. “That’s why the expansion of Virginia’s expedited licensure policy is so key—it removes a critical barrier to military spouses working in the fields of their training. We are grateful to Governor Northam and the Virginia legislature for taking action on this important issue.”
According to the United States Department of Labor, more than 34 percent of all military spouses in the labor force require an occupational or professional license. The Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and the Department of Health Professions administer the process of granting professional licenses for all professions regulated under Title 54.1 of the Code of Virginia.
Additional information about the licensure process for military personnel and their spouses is available here.