How to File for Unemployment in Virginia

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If you're one of the thousands of Virginians who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, take these steps to file for unemployment benefits.

If you're one of the thousands of Virginians who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, take these steps to file for unemployment benefits. 

If the COVID-19 pandemic has caused you to lose your job, you're not alone. The Virginia Employment Commission reports a dramatic increase in the number of unemployment claims in the last few weeks. If you're a Virginian in need of unemployment benefits, this guide is a handy place to start.

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?

In order to qualify for Virginia unemployment benefits you must:

  • Be unemployed through no fault of your own
  • Be able and available to work
  • Have earned at least $3,000 in two quarters of the regular base period. Base period refers to the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you file for benefits. For example, if you file for benefits in March 2020, your base period will be the months of October 2018 through September 2019. If you file in April 2020, your base period will be January 2019 through December 2019. 


Within five days of filing your application, you must register for work through the VEC Workforce Connection. If you do not register, you may not receive benefits. 

How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

The two fastest ways to file for Virginia unemployment benefits are: 

  • By calling the Customer Contact Center at (866) 832-2363 from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (except for state holidays). According to the VEC, the wait time is currently two hours. 
  • Apply online. This is the quickest way to get your application for benefits started. 

Be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social Security number or Alien Registration Number (if not a U.S. citizen)
  • Name, address, and telephone number of your last employer
  • Dates of employment
  • Reason you are no longer working

At this time, you will also be asked to select your desired payment method. You can choose between direct deposit to your bank account or a prepaid debit card. If you choose direct deposit, you will need to supply your bank account and routing numbers. 

How much money will I receive in unemployment benefits? 

How much you qualify for depends on your earnings. Benefit amounts range from a minimum of $60 per week to $378 per week. 

How long can I collect unemployment benefits?  

The maximum number of weeks you can receive unemployment benefits in Virginia ranges between 12 and 26, depending on the amount of wages you earned while employed. However, the CARES Act extends that period by 13 weeks, allowing you to collect unemployment benefits for up to 39 weeks.

What if my unemployment claim is denied?

If you are denied unemployment benefits you have the right to appeal the decision using one of three methods:

  • By mail, by sending a letter to: Clerk of the Commission, P.O Box 26441, Richmond, VA 23261-6441
  • By fax at (804) 786-8492
  • Online, by visiting Virginia Internet Appeals

Be sure to include your name, Social Security number, and the reason for the appeal. All appeals must be filed within 30 days of the date the determination was mailed to you (not the day you received it). 

Unemployment benefits may not make losing a job any easier, but they can see you through until you find your next great position.

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