One of the barriers to military spousal employment is the transferability of professional licensure. Teachers have to apply for a new license in a new state with different requirements – some requiring more education while they have been teaching in another state for 5+ years. Medical professionals applying for a license in a new state may also have new requirements of different continuing education classes or specific classes even after practicing for a period of time. Anyone with commercial certificates or licenses- HVAC, plumber, etc, would not have to prove anything other than their previous state license.
In 2018 and 2019, individual states began discussing and passing legislation allowing for the compatibility of military spouse professional licenses. Arizona passed HB 2569 in 2019, specifically naming license reciprocity for military spouses. This meant any person who established residence in the states or was married to an active duty member in the military who PCS’d to the state, currently licensed in another state for at least a year without revocation or suspension or other forms of discipline meant the person could apply for the license in Arizona, pay the fees, pass a criminal history and be given a license without having to meet Arizona specific state requirements due to already being a license holder in another state.
In 2023, a change in legislature allows out-of-state professional licenses and certificates to be recognized by the new state the military family moved to. The Justice Department has released a letter specifically addressing state licensing authorities about the federal protections extended to military families. The SCRA, Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, was amended in 2023, adding verbiage specifically stating that military spouses and service members can have their out-of-state licenses recognized as valid in the new state while stationed there as long as they meet certain requirements. This federal law supersedes state laws.
The Justice Department released this letter in response to a lawsuit by a military spouse in Texas. Per the lawsuit, the military spouse held counseling licenses in Ohio and Missouri and moved to Texas with her spouse’s military orders, and Texas denied her request to have her out-of-state license recognized, stating that the SCRA law “would not apply to Texas.”
Per the SCRA provision, the license would be considered valid in the new location if the servicemember and spouse must have moved to a location outside the jurisdiction of the licensing authority that issued the covered license or certificate due to military orders, provide a copy of the military orders to the licensing authority in the new jurisdiction, have actively used the license or certificate during the two years immediately preceding the move, remain in good standing with the licensing authority(ies) of the out-of-state licenses and submit to the authority of the licensing authority in the new jurisdiction for the purposes of standards of practice, discipline, and fulfillment of any continuing education requirements.
This saves military families time and money and removes the application period and fees as the out-of-state license is accepted. If legal assistance is needed, office locations can be found at legalassistance.law.af.mil
Have you utilized the new license reciprocity? How was the process?