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Living in Puerto Rico

If you’re planning on relocating for business, education or just looking to visit to experience a new culture, Puerto Rico offers you unique and diverse opportunities.

Visiting Puerto Rico

Visitors from other countries other than the United States, including Canada, need a valid passport to land in Puerto Rico. Citizens of other countries requiring a visa to enter the U.S., have the same requirements to enter Puerto Rico The purpose and extent of your visit will determine which visa to apply for.

Potential visitors must first obtain a visa, either a non-immigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. If you are just coming in as a tourist, the standard 90-day "visitor" visa is a non-immigrant visa to enter the United States temporarily and the key to paradise. If you are lucky enough to be coming here as a student or as a temporary worker, specialized visas apply (either an M-1 or F-1 class).

A visa is not a guarantee of entry into Puerto Rico. The bearer of a visa is subject to inspection at the port of entry by officials of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security {link to Homeland Security} who has the authority to deny admission.

At the airports in Puerto Rico, your luggage will be inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make sure you are not carrying prohibited fruits and plants to the mainland. Avocado, papaya, coconut and plantain can be taken to the U.S.; mango, sour soup, passion fruit and plants potted in soil cannot. Travelers carrying undeclared prohibited items will be fined on the spot. Articles from North Korea or Cuba, illegal publications, lottery tickets, chocolate liqueurs or pre-Columbian artifacts may not be brought into the country.

Passing through customs should be routine and quick. If you are taking prescription drugs, make sure you have a copy of the prescription with you; otherwise you could be held up.

For more information on your trip to Puerto Rico, visit the useful links below:

Studying in Puerto Rico

When you enter the United States on a student visa or Student Pass, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you are a full time student, even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in America. For a student who has completed the course of studies shown on the I-20, and any authorized practical training, the student is allowed the following additional time in Puerto Rico before departure:

  • F-1 student – An additional 60 days, to prepare for departure from the Puerto Rico or to transfer to another school
  • M-1 student – An additional 30 days to depart Puerto Rico (Fixed time period, in total not to exceed one year). The 30 days to prepare for departure is permitted as long as the student maintained a full course of study and maintained status. An M student may receive extensions up to three years for the total program

For more information on Student Visas, click here.

To research more on Puerto Rico educational alternatives, visit the useful links below:

  • School Information
  • Public Schools
  • Private Schools
  • Higher Education
  • Working in Puerto Rico

    If you are a foreign national and you want to work in the US you will have to have a work visa or permit.

    Work Visa

    An US work visa can be defined as an endorsement by authorities that give you permission to enter the US for the purpose of work. It denotes that an applicant has applied, been examined, and approved for the visa being sought.

    A citizen of a foreign country, who seeks to enter the US, must first obtain a US Visa, which is placed on the traveler’s passport. Having a US visa allows you to travel to a port of entry, airport or land border crossing and request permission to enter the US. While having a visa does not guarantee entry to the US, it does indicate that a consular officer at a US Embassy or Consulate abroad has determined that you are eligible to seek entry into the US for a specific purpose.

    The US issues different types of visas, which relate to the principal purpose of your travel. A US work visa allows you to enter into the US to take up employment as compared to a US visitor visa which is issued for the purpose of visiting US. Hence to seek entry into the US and work in US, you must have a work visa.

    Work Permit

    A work permit, on the other hand, is a generic term applied where a person has been given legal authorization to accept employment. In US immigration terms, the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), issued by the USCIS, is generally referred to as a Work Permit.

    Before a person can be employed in the US, he must prove to an employer that he can legally work in the US. US immigration law requires all US employers to check and make sure that all their employees, regardless of their citizenship or national origin, are legally allowed to work in the United States.

    US citizens, permanent residents and others granted long-term status often prove they can legally work by showing an unrestricted Social Security Card and an identity document, such as a driver’s license. Certain nonimmigrant visa holders who are eligible to work based upon employment with a specific employer, can show their Form I-94 Arrival and Departure record with their nonimmigrant visa, which will indicate the name of the employer with whom they are authorized to be employed.

    In other cases, Employment Authorization must be obtained from the USCIS, in the form of an Employment Authorization Document.

    If you are not a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (with proof of permanent resident status), you will have to have a work visa or an Employment Authorization Document (work permit) to legally work in the US. If you are a foreign national without a work visa you may need to apply for an EAD to prove your authorization to work in the US.

    Below are some useful links to some permits that a foreign businessman may need to set up a business in Puerto Rico.

    Other useful links:

    Contact us to learn more about living, studying or working in Puerto Rico.