Living in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, which literally means “rich port”, is a welcoming haven for tourists. It is famous for its people’s innate hospitality and its diverse cultural background. 


As one of the many US territories, Puerto Rico uses the US dollar as its currency. It is home to 3.6 million locals as of July 2014. Puerto Rico has the third smallest land area in the Americas with 9,104 km² measurement. It is one of the many major islands famous for its Caribbean breeze, white sand beaches, and well-preserved coral reefs. The sun smiles in this country as the weather remains warm and sunny around the year. Puerto Ricans uses English and Spanish as their official language but most of the locals are more accustomed to speaking in Spanish. During formal scenarios, expats must remember to use courtesy names such as Señor (Sir), Señora (Maam), or with the person’s profession such as Doctor or Professor. Other than these codes of respect, Puerto Ricans are have an open and upbeat personality.


Its major industries also include manufacturing, chemical production, machinery, and electronic innovations. With the country’s ability to absorb foreign investors and external assistance, more and more expats are enticed to travel to Puerto Rico.


Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the US, thus relocating expats would need to apply through the US Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS). Non-US citizens are required to obtain visas from a US embassy or consulate before travelling to the island. Nationals of countries without a visa waiver privilege may stay in Puerto Rico, on a non-immigrant status, for a maximum of 90 days. They may not engage in any income-generating activity within this period. Work permits in Puerto Rico, similar to any US territory, are categorized as follows:


Temporary Employment Visa – This non-immigrant permit is granted to individuals seeking to enter the country temporarily for a specific purpose. Holders are restricted to the activity for which their visa was issued. The visa application fee of USD $190 is non-refundable.


Permanent Employment Visa – This immigrant permit is issued to individuals who are allowed to work in Puerto Rico permanently. 


Exchange Visitor Visa (J-1) – This non-immigrant visa is for foreigners approved to participate in exchange visitor programs in a US territory. The visa application fee of USD $160 is non-refundable.


In some instances, holders of J-1 visas are allowed to seek employment during their stay in Puerto Rico. Those interested in applying for this work permit are required to obtain permission from an authorised official at their school or research institution.


Temporary Visitors for Business (B-1 Visa) – This visa is issued to foreigners visiting Puerto Rico as a company representative, investor or specialist to be engaged in a short-term project. Some individuals are exempt from this requirement under the Visa Waiver Program.


Media Visa (I) – This non-immigrant visa is granted to members of the foreign media, press and radio. Activities in a US territory must be informational in nature and associated with news gathering and reporting on current events. The visa application fee of USD $160 is non-refundable.


The Treaty Trader (E-1) and the Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are for nationals of countries with which a US territory maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. For the list of participating countries, visit the official website of the US Bureau of Consular Affairs.


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