Essential Employment Paperwork in Puerto Rico



Puerto Rico is unquestionably one of the most economically successful countries in the Caribbean. It is an unincorporated United States territory which means that expats who will choose to work here should adhere to the same immigration laws and procedures of the US. 

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. All non-US expats are required to obtain a visa and other relevant employment paperwork before working in Puerto Rico. 

Labour Certification 

Puerto Rican based companies who wish to employ a non-US foreign national need to obtain a Labour Certification from the Department of Labour. This certificate will only be granted only after performing an extensive search on the local labour market and if it has been proven that no qualified Puerto Rican or U.S citizen was found to fill the vacancy. Keep in mind though that the Labour Certificate has an indefinite validity and doesn’t automatically grant the employee with an immigrant status. 

Petition Approval 

After the issuance of the Labour Certificate, the next step for the employer is to petition the expat employee. All petitions must be filed at the website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and once it has been approved, the USCIS will send the employer a Notice of Action Form I-797. The Petition Approval is employer specific, and expats who wish to change jobs in Puerto Rico are required to obtain a new approval. 

Work Visa 

Expats whose Puerto Rican employers have successfully obtained a Labour Certification and Petition Approval will be eligible to apply for a US work visa at the US Embassy/Consulate in their home countries. The work visas applicable to Puerto Rico are classified into two: 

Temporary Worker Visa 

The Temporary Worker Visa or also known as the Non-Immigrant visa is issued to foreign nationals who will work in Puerto Rico for a limited period of time. Expats can use this visa to work in Puerto Rico under a short term assignment or enter the country and later on apply for their immigrant visa/Green Card. 

Employment Based Green Card 

The Employment Based Green Card is the official US document that grants its holder the legal right to stay and work in Puerto Rico permanently. It is granted by the USCIS to expats who have a permanent employment opportunity in Puerto Rico. 

Visa Application Requirements 

Below is the list of essential documents that expats must bring during the application. However, immigration procedures are subject to sudden changes and expats should contact the US Consular office for the list of up to date requirements. 

  • Passport that is valid for at least six months
  • Several Passport-sized photos
  • Receipt number or copy of the Petition Approval issued to the applicant’s employer
  • Job Letter and Employment Contract
  • Educational and Professional Certificates that will establish the applicant’s eligibility