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Justice Department reinforces federal protections for servicemembers and their spouses in letter to state officials

  • Published
  • Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department announced July 14 that it has issued a letter to all state licensing authorities about new employment-related federal protections for military families. The letter informs state licensing authorities about Congress’s recent amendment to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act that allows servicemembers and their spouses to use their professional licenses or certificates in new jurisdictions if they are relocating because of military orders and meet certain other requirements.

“Servicemembers and their families should not face unnecessary barriers to employment because of the sacrifices they make in service to our country,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The guidance we are issuing today reflects the Justice Department’s commitment to honoring our nation’s servicemembers and their families not just with words, but also with action.”

“Servicemembers bear great burdens to protect and advance our democracy and families of these dedicated military professionals often make sacrifices on our behalf, including frequent moves, child-care challenges and interruptions or barriers to employment,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The resources that we are making available should empower many servicemembers and military spouses with professional licenses to better navigate the burdens that can result from frequently moving around the country.”

In January 2023, Congress added a new provision to the SCRA — a law that provides servicemembers and their families with a wide variety of financial and housing protections — to make it easier for servicemembers and military spouses to have their professional licenses recognized when they relocate to another state due to military orders. The new SCRA license portability provision provides that servicemembers and military spouses can have their out-of-state licenses recognized as valid in the new state while they are stationed there so long as they meet certain requirements. 

The letter to state licensing authorities explains how the SCRA’s license portability provision reduces the administrative hurdles that servicemembers and their spouses face when they move across state lines. The documents explain the requirements servicemembers or their spouses must meet to have their license or certificate recognized as valid under this new law. The department is also releasing a fact sheet about the SCRA’s license portability provision.