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Board of Social Work
Frequently Asked Questions

General

1. What is the mailing information for the Board of Social Work?

Our mailing address is: 9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300, Henrico, Virginia 23233

2. Where can I find information on the fees associated with the Board of Social Work?

The fees are located in our Regulations under 18VAC140-20-30. All fees are non-refundable.

3. How do I notify the board office of an address change and/or name change?

Licensed Social Workers or Licensed Clinical Social Workers may submit a name and/or address change in writing using the Name/Address Change Form. Address changes may also be made online through the Online Licensing website.

All name changes must be accompanied by a marriage license, divorce decree, or court order.

Supervision

1. How can I obtain an application for supervision and how long does the process take?

Applications must be completed using the online appliction process. Applications that are complete, fully documented and meet the minimum requirements of the Regulations Governing the Practice of Social Work will be processed within 30 days after the Credentials Review of your application. The Board office provides individual feedback to each applicant in writing.

2. What is the process for registering a supervisor?

You must complete the online Registration of Supervision application. The online application process allows you to track the progress of your submission online 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the online checklist.

A confirmation email is sent to you to confirm that your application was received by the Board office. Please allow 7-10 business days from the date that you submit your online payment or supporting documentation before contacting the Board of Social Work about the status of your application. If additional information is required, a detailed description of missing information will accompany the email.

If the application is complete, it will be sent to Credentials Review for official evaluation. Please allow adequate processing time for applications. Applications that are complete, fully documented and meet the minimum requirements of the Regulations Governing the Practice of Social Work will be processed within 30 days after the Credentials Review of your application. The Board office provides individual feedback to each applicant in writing.


3. When is it necessary to register supervision?

Supervised experience in all settings obtained in Virginia must be approved by the Board before applicants are permitted to begin supervision toward licensure.

4. If I began my supervision in an exempt setting in Virginia before November 26, 2008, do I now have to register?

Supervision hours that began before November 26, 2008 which met the requirements of Regulation 18VAC140-20-50 in effect prior to that date can be accepted until November 26, 2012.

If you did not submit your unregistered supervision hours that took place in Virginia on or before November 26, 2012, you will need to obtain new registered supervision hours towards licensure. Please review the requirements for initial registration of supervision.

5. Can I begin counting hours under supervision before I receive approval from the Board of Social Work?

No, you must receive written Board approval prior to counting hours towards licensure.

6. While under supervision, can I directly bill for services?

Supervisees may not directly bill for services rendered or in any way represent themselves as independent, autonomous practitioners, or licensed clinical social workers. During the supervised experience, supervisees shall use their names and the initials of their degree, and the title "Supervisee in Social Work" in all written communications. Clients shall be informed in writing of the supervisee's status and the supervisor's name, professional address, and phone number.

7. What does the Board mean when they say that supervision has to be “face-to-face”?

The Board defines face-to-face supervision as the physical presence of the individuals involved in the supervisory relationship during either individual or group supervision or the use of technology that provides real-time, visual contact among the individuals involved.

8. Does that Board have a list of supervisors that are available?

No, the Board does not have a list of current supervisor, but we suggest contacting the NASW, ASWB or other social work associations who might be able to provide this information. You can also check with other applicants who have been through the registration process.

9. Are there requirements or qualifications for new supervisors for the supervised experience beginning on or after November 26, 2008?

Yes. For MSW Supervisees in Social Work for LCSW licensure, the supervisor must: 1) hold an active, unrestricted license as a LCSW in the jurisdiction in which the clinical services are being rendered with at least 3 years of post licensure clinical social work experience. 2) The supervisor must have received professional training in supervision, consisting of a 3 credit-hour graduate course in supervision or at least 14 hours of continuing education offered by a provider approved under Regulation 18VAC140-20-105. The graduate course or hours of continuing education in supervision shall be obtained by a supervisor within 5 years immediately preceding registration of supervision.

With respect to BSW Supervisees in Social Work for LSW licensure, the supervisor must: 1) hold an active, unrestricted license as a LSW with a master’s degree or an LSW with a bachelor’s degree and at least 3 years of post licensure social work experience or an LCSW in the jurisdiction in which the social work services are being rendered.

10. If I am unable to locate my supervisor or if my supervisor is deceased, how can I verify my supervision hours?

The applicant shall submit to the Board a notarized affidavit from the present chief executive officer of the agency, corporation or partnership in which the applicant was supervised. The affidavit shall specify dates of employment, job responsibilities, supervisor’s name and last known address, and the total number of hours spent by the applicant with the supervisor in face-to-face supervision. Or, if the applicant is licensed in another state, obtain a copy of the application from their state board and submit the verification of supervision forms from that state board.

11. Will supervision obtained in another state count towards licensure in Virginia?

Yes, as long as it meets the requirements of the Board’s regulations. The Credentials Reviewer is unable to make a determination as to whether this time will count until you submit a complete application for consideration.

12. To obtain clinical licensure, must my supervision be under a Licensed Clinical Social Worker?

Yes. However, the Board may consider supervisors with commensurate qualifications if the applicant can demonstrate an undue burden due to geography or disability.

13. Where can I find the requirements for supervision hours towards Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) licensure?

Please refer to regulation 18VAC140-20-50 which can be found under Laws and Regulations. The regulation states that “the applicant shall have completed a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised post-master's degree experience in the delivery of clinical social work services. A minimum of one hour and a maximum of four hours of face-to-face supervision shall be provided per 40 hours of work experience for a total of at least 100 hours. Experience shall be acquired in no less than two nor more than four years.”

14. When do I need to send in an add/change supervision form?

If your supervision changes in any way (i.e. changing job duties, supervisors or location), you must submit a new application for Registration of Supervision. You must receive written board approval before new hours can be counted towards licensure.

15. What is the definition of “Administrative Review” and “Credentials Review”?

“Administrative Review” refers to your application being evaluated by the Board staff for completeness. They ensure that all required documentation has been received.

“Credentials Review” refers to your application being evaluated by an expert who will provide a recommendation regarding your eligibility for licensure based on the information provided in your application packet.

16. If I was approved to take exam, do I need to stay under supervision? What if I change jobs? Do I still need to meet with my supervisor weekly?

Yes, you must stay under board approved supervision until you have passed your examination. If you have a change in supervision (i.e. a change in job duties, supervisors and/or location) you must receive board approval to continue providing clinical social work services in that setting. You must continue to meet with your supervisor weekly in accordance with Regulation 18VAC140-20-50.

17. Do I have to register my practicum experience with the Board while I am still obtaining my graduate degree?

No, the board only requires that you register your post-graduate level supervised experience toward licensure.


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Licensure

1. Do I have to have a license to provide social work services?

If you work in a non-exempt (for-profit) setting, you are required to be a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

Work in an exempt (not for-profit) setting does not require licensure to render services.

2. Can I practice with a temporary license until a full license is issued?

Virginia does not issue a temporary license.

3. Does Virginia have reciprocity?

Virginia does not have reciprocity with any state. Virginia offers application by endorsement for applicants holding a current and active social work license in another jurisdiction who have passed the necessary licensing examination. Please review the requirements for licensure by endorsement which can be found in the regulations.

4. What is the fee to renew my license and how can it be paid?

The Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) renewal fee is $125.00 and the Licensed Social Worker (LSW) renewal fee is $110.00. Both fees can be paid by check or money order made payable to the “Treasurer of Virginia.”
You can also renew your license using the online service and pay with a credit card. Please note that you must have your PIN number in order to renew online. First time users will need to click the “New User” button, enter your license number and temporary PIN number, then follow the directions to create a User ID and Password.

5. How do I request inactive licensure?

Any LSW or LCSW who holds a current, unrestricted license in Virginia may change to inactive status by completing the Inactive License Request Form (if the board is not in a renewal period), or by selecting this option on the bi-annual renewal notice and paying the inactive renewal fee. The option to change your license from active to inactive is not available online. Please contact the board office at (804) 367-4441 with any questions.

6. What is the difference between active and inactive license, and what are my options to renew my license?

An active license allows practice. An inactive license does not allow practice. You may renew in an active status, inactive status or allow your license to expire.

7. What is the fee if I do not renew my license by the date shown on my license?

If you do not renew by June 30, you will be assessed a late fee. The late fee is $10.00 which can be paid at the time that you renew your license. Practicing on an expired license may result in disciplinary action.

8. Is there a “grace period” if I do not renew my social work license by the 30th of June of the renewal year?

No.

9. How do I receive a paper renewal form?

You may call the Department’s automated services system at (804) 217-8056 or contact the Board of Social Work.

10. What if I had not notified the board of my change of address and the renewal form was sent to the old address?

Licensed Social Workers or Licensed Clinical Social Workers may submit a name and/or address change in writing using the Name/Address Change Form. Address changes may also be made online through the Online Licensing website. Name/Address change forms may be faxed or mailed to the Social Work board office. The board office fax is: (804) 527-4435 and mailing address: Board of Social Work, 9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300, Henrico, Virginia 23233.

All name changes must be accompanied by a marriage license, divorce decree, or court order.

You may provide written request that your renewal form is mailed to your new address.

11. I am going out of the country for a year. Can I renew early?

A license can only be updated within 60 days prior to the expiration date. Early renewal for military deployment may be considered by calling (804) 367-4441.

12. Can you fax renewal forms to me?

No.

13. Can I renew my Virginia license online?

Yes, you are able to renew during the renewal cycle through the Online Licensing website.

14. Can I change my address online?

Yes. Visit the Online Licensing website for more details.

15. What information should be maintained on a client?

Written or electronic clinical records shall be maintained for each client to include identifying information and assessment that substantiates diagnosis and treatment plans. Each record shall include a diagnosis and treatment plan, progress notes for each case activity, information received from all collaborative contacts and the treatment implications of that information, and the termination process and summary.

16. How long must a social worker keep clinical records on a client?

Client records must be maintained for a minimum of 6 years or as otherwise required by law from the date of termination of the therapeutic relationship with the following exceptions:
a. At a minimum, records of a minor child shall be maintained for 6 years after attaining the age of majority or 10 years following termination, whichever comes later.
b. Records that are required by contractual obligation or federal law to be maintained for a longer period of time.
c. Records that have been transferred to another mental health professional or have been given to the client or his legally authorized representative.

17. How may I obtain a duplicate copy of my license?

To obtain a duplicate copy of your license submit a written request and a $10.00 fee check or money order made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia. Duplicate licenses may also be ordered online through the Online Licensing website.

18. What is the cost to have my license verified to another state?

Submit a Request for Verification of Virginia Licensure form along with a $10.00 check or money order made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia. Please note that the verification process can take approximately 5-7 business days upon receipt of your request.

19. What is the process for applying for licensure as a LSW or LCSW?

You must complete and submit the online licensure application.

A confirmation email that your application has been received is sent to you to verify that the application has been received by the Board. If additional information is required, a detailed description of missing information will accompany the email.

If the application is complete, it will be sent to Credentials Review for official evaluation. Please allow adequate processing time for applications. Applications that are complete, fully documented and meet the minimum requirements of the Regulations Governing the Practice of Social Work will be processed within 30 days after the Credentials Review of your application. The Board office provides individual feedback to each applicant in writing.

20. What is licensure by examination and licensure by endorsement?

Licensure by Examination: to become a licensed social worker (LSW) or licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), an individual must pass the required examination administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).

You must apply for licensure by examination if you:

  1. Do not hold a current, unrestricted license as a social worker or clinical social worker in another state;
  2. Have not taken the national exam given by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).

Licensure by Endorsement: If you hold a current, unrestricted license as a social worker or clinical social worker in another state and became licensed by taking the ASWB examination (not a state constructed test), then you should apply by endorsement. Apply for the level which is comparable to the license you hold based on the level of examination you passed and Virginia’s licensing requirements.

21. What type of post-licensure experience is required for licensure by endorsement?

For LCSW by Endorsement: Only post-licensure clinical social work experience will be counted towards the 36 of the last 60 month requirement. Lower level experience cannot be counted.

For LSW by Endorsement: Only post-licensure social work experience will be counted toward towards the 36 of the last 60 month requirement.

22. What is the definition of “Administrative Review” and “Credentials Review”?

“Administrative Review” refers to your application being evaluated by the Board staff for completeness. They ensure that all required documentation has been received.

“Credentials Review” refers to your application being evaluated by an expert who will provide a recommendation regarding your eligibility for licensure based on the information provided in your application packet.

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Applications

1. What is the difference between LSW and LCSW?

The licensed social worker (LSW) is a lower-level case management license which is available to both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree applicants. If you hold a BSW, board approved supervision is required per regulation 18VAC140-20-60. If you hold a MSW, supervision is not required.

The licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) is the highest level of social work licensure in Virginia which allows you to practice autonomously. Supervision is required as a pre-requisite for LCSW licensure.

2. Is the LSW license required in order to obtain LCSW licensure?

No, the LSW is not a pre-requisite for clinical licensure.

3. What is “Casework Management and Support Services” versus “Clinical Social Work Services”?

"Casework" means both direct treatment, with an individual or several individuals, and intervention in the situation on the client's behalf with the objectives of meeting the client's needs, helping the client deal with the problem with which he is confronted, strengthening the client's capacity to function productively, lessening his distress, and enhancing his opportunities and capacities for fulfillment.

"Clinical social work services" include the application of social work principles and methods in performing assessments and diagnoses based on a recognized manual of mental and emotional disorders or recognized system of problem definition, preventive and early intervention services and treatment services, including but not limited to psychotherapy and counseling for mental disorders, substance abuse, marriage and family dysfunction, and problems caused by social and psychological stress or health impairment.

4. When is the applicant notified if approval has been granted for licensure or to sit for the exam?

The applicant is notified by email as soon as possible after the review date.

5. When must I take the licensing exam?

Effective January 7, 2010, exam candidates must take the exam within 2 years of the date of initial board approval. If the candidate has not passed the exam by the end of the 2-year period, the applicant must reapply according to the requirements of the regulations in effect at that time.

6. If I’ve taken the required exam in another state how do I have this information transferred to Virginia?

You may contact ASWB to request an official score report which will be sent directly to the Board.

7. What levels of the exam does Virginia offer?

Virginia offers the Clinical level ASWB exam for the Licensed Clinical Social Worker application and the Bachelor's level ASWB exam for the Licensed Social Worker application. The Bachelor's Level exam is for both bachelor's and master's level candidates for LSW.

8. Can you obtain approval to sit for the exam before you complete the requirements for licensure?

With respect to the LCSW license applicants, Virginia requires that all licensure requirements be completed before approval is granted to sit for the exam. However, with respect to BSW applicants for LSW license applicants, BSW applicants may apply to take the Bachelor's level exam prior to completion of the 3,000 hours of post-bachelor's experience required.

9. How quickly is the applicant notified if he/she was successful on the exam?

The applicant is notified that day at the testing site.

10. Once I have taken the exam do I need to contact the board office?

No, once you have taken the exam it takes about two to three weeks before the board office receives the official score report. Once the board office has received the official score report the applicant is licensed that day and mailed the license.

11. If I was unsuccessful on the exam do I need to contact the board office?

No, follow the instructions in the Candidate Handbook to sit for the exam again.

12. After the board office has received the official score report how long does it take to receive the hard copy of the license.

Allow 7 to 10 business days to receive the license.

13. After I have passed the exam may I use the designation LSW or LCSW?

No. You must wait until you are issued a license from the board office. Passing the exam does not mean you are licensed.

14. What education does Virginia require to obtain LCSW licensure?

Virginia regulations require that the applicant document successful completion of one of the following:

(i) a master's degree in social work with a clinical course of study from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education,
(ii) a master's degree in social work with a nonclinical concentration from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education together with successful completion of the educational requirements for a clinical course of study through a graduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, or
(iii) a program of education and training in social work at an educational institution outside the United States recognized by the Council on Social Work Education.

Please see Regulation 18VAC140-20-49 for more information on the educational requirements for a LCSW.

15. What education does Virginia require to obtain LSW licensure?

The applicant shall hold a bachelor’s or a master’s degree from an accredited school of social work.

An applicant who holds a master’s degree may apply for licensure as a licensed social worker without documentation of supervised experience.

An applicant who holds a bachelor’s degree must meet the supervision requirements of Regulation 18VAC140-20-60.

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Continuing Competency Requirements

1. How many continued competency hours are required for each biennial licensure renewal?

LCSW's are required to complete a minimum of 30 contact hours of continuing education and LSW's are required to complete a minimum of 15 contact hours of continuing education for each biennial licensure renewal.

2. How will I know if training is approved?

There is no pre-approval process for the continuing competency requirements you must refer to the regulations to determine if a particular training will counts towards the renewal requirements. See Regulation 18VAC140-20-105. Each licensee must use their best and professional judgment to determine if the course meets the requirements for licensure.

3. Do I need to submit my continued education (CE) documentation to the board for each renewal?

No, you must maintain this information in your records for a period of five years following renewal. The Board conducts a random audit of licensees to verify compliance with the requirement for that renewal period. If selected, you would be notified by mail that documentation is required and given a time frame within which to comply.

4. When must I have the required number of continuing competency hours completed in order to renew my license?

The requirement must be completed with each renewal of licensure. You will be required to sign a certification on your renewal form that you have met the continuing competency requirements. Falsification on the renewal form is a violation of law and may subject you to disciplinary action.

5. Who maintains the required documents for verification of continuing competency hours?

It is the social worker's responsibility to maintain the certificates and any other continuing competency forms or records for five years following renewal. Do not send any forms or documents to the Board of Social Work unless requested to do so.

6. What are "Category I" hours?

Category I hours are Formally Organized Learning Activities that can be documented by an approved sponsor or organization. The Board-approved sponsors or organizations are listed in Regulation 18 VAC 140-20-105B. If the sponsoring organization does not award a participant with a dated certificate indicating the activity or course taken and the number of hours earned, the social worker is responsible for obtaining a letter on organizational letterhead verifying the hours and activity. LCSW's are required to complete a minimum of 20 Category I hours per renewal period; LSW's must complete a minimum of 10 Category I hours per renewal period. All continuing education obtained for renewal may be Category I.

7. What are "Category II" hours?

Category II hours (no more than 10 hours each biennium for LCSW's and no more than 5 hours for LSW's) are Individual Professional Activities earned in self-study, attending formal staffings, publication of a professional social work-related article or chapter of a book, independent or group study including listening to audio tapes, viewing video tapes, reading, professional books or articles, etc. They are activities chosen by the social worker based on assessment of his/her practice. They do not have to be sponsored by an approved organization but must be documented by the social worker in the manner prescribed by regulation.

8. Are there Board forms that I need to use for documenting my compliance with the continued competency requirement? 

Upon request, a licensee shall provide documentation of Category I activities by the submission of an official transcript showing credit hours earned or certificates of participation, and provide an attestation of completion of Category II activities.

9. Is there a requirement for a course in ethics?

Yes, a minimum of two hours must pertain to the standards of practice and laws governing the profession of social work in Virginia or to the Code of Ethics of one of the social work professional associations.

10. What if I am newly licensed? Do I still have to obtain the hours of continued competency before my first renewal?

No. Newly licensed individuals are not required to document continuing education on the first renewal date following initial licensure

11. What if I become ill or incapacitated and unable to complete my continuing competency requirements prior to renewal?

Upon written request from the social worker prior to the renewal date explaining the circumstances, the Board may grant an extension or exemption for all or part of the required hours.

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Title Protection

1. What is title protection?

It shall be unlawful for any person not licensed under chapter 54.1-3709 to use the title “Social Worker” in writing or in advertising in connection with a practice unless he simultaneously uses clarifying initials that signify receiving a baccalaureate or master's degree in social work from an accredited social work school or program approved by the Council on Social Work Education or a doctorate in social work.

2. When did title protection become effective?

The unlawful designation as social worker became effective on July 1, 2013.

3. How does the law pertain to those who work in a nursing home or hospice?

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 54.1-3709:

  1. Any individual meeting the qualifications provided for in 42 C.F.R. Part 483 may practice as a "qualified social worker" in any licensed nursing home using such title. However, any such individual may only use the title "social worker" in connection with the activities of the nursing home.
  2. Any individual meeting the qualifications provided for in 42 C.F.R. § 418.114(b) (3) may practice as a "social worker" in any licensed hospice using such title. However, any such individual may only use the title "social worker" in connection with the activities of the hospice.

4. What if I have called myself a “Social Worker” after this law went into effect?

If a complaint or report of a possible violation of section 54.1-3709 is made against any person who is licensed, certified, registered, or permitted, or who holds a multistate licensure privilege issued by any of the health regulatory boards within the Department of Health Professions, that complaint shall be referred to the applicable board within the Department for disciplinary action. A violation of this section shall be a Class 1 misdemeanor.

5. Where can I find the Code of Virginia pertaining to title protection?

This information is available on the Virginia Board of Social Work website at www.dhp.virginia.gov/social under “Laws and Regulations.” Please click on Laws Governing Social Work and refer to the appropriate section.

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