Universal licensing law eases burden for newcomers to state

Published 8:40 pm Monday, July 24, 2023

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Beginning July 1, the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation began offering Universal License Recognition to skilled and experienced professionals already licensed in other states, reducing barriers and streamlining the process for those seeking to work in Virginia. 

Under universal licensing, DPOR recognizes out-of-state licenses or certifications for professionals who have at least three years of experience in their field, maintain good standing in all states where they are licensed, have passed a competency exam, met training standards for their original state license and have paid all applicable Virginia fees. 

Applicants from states that do not require licensure or certification for their profession or occupation may still qualify for ULR in Virginia if all other criteria like work experience, good standing and examination requirements are met. 

“Universal Licensing Recognition eliminates duplicate training, delays, and other regulatory hurdles for qualified professionals who wish to bring their skills and expertise to the Commonwealth of Virginia, which is good news for employees and employers alike,” DPOR Director Demetrios Melis said. “From barbers to real estate agents, electricians to plumbers, opticians to waterworks operators, ULR removes obstacles and creates opportunities.”

It is important to note that while ULR simplifies the licensing process, it does not automatically recognize licenses or experience from other states. Individuals looking to work in Virginia are still required to apply for a license through the appropriate DPOR regulatory board for their occupation before commencing work in the commonwealth. Applicants are required to submit official proof of licensure from the state board or regulatory body where they currently hold a license.  

“ULR provides a pathway for anyone who has invested considerable time and financial investment to obtain a professional license or certification in their current state to move to Virginia and quickly get to work while still meeting DPOR’s mission of ensuring the public’s health and safety,” Melis said. 

Out-of-state applicants can find more information about ULR and access the ULR applications for their profession on DPOR’s website at www.dpor.virgnia.gov. They may also contact the appropriate DPOR regulatory board directly for assistance.  

In addition, DPOR implemented several other new agency initiatives signed into law starting July 1. These initiatives aim to improve efficiency, safety and compliance with federal law and include the following: 

  • DPOR now has the authority to use commercial alternatives for mailings instead of relying solely on the U.S. Postal Service, resulting in significant time and cost savings for the agency. 
  • A modification to align a state statute with federal law that allows for over-the-counter hearing aids to be sold without a license while continuing to ensure state licensing laws protect the public in the purchase of prescription hearing aids. This revision increases consumer protection by clarifying when licensure is needed. 
  • A seat on the Board for Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators and Onsite Sewage System Professionals was amended to include a Virginia Department of Health official, providing the board with more practical and specialized knowledge in policy making and contributing to improved interagency communication.  
  • DPOR regulatory boards now can send copies of application materials to individuals via email upon their request. This option eliminates the need for in-person requests, providing improved citizen access to government.