I am in the US on an F2 visa. I want to change my status to F1 (I already have the visa stamp in my passport). For that purpose, I need to travel outside the US and come back in. I am planning to use Puerto Rico for that.

I know that I can enter Puerto Rico without a visa because it is a US territory. This page says that entry requirements (entry back to the US mainland) for non-citizens are the same as entering from a foreign destination. Am I correct in assuming that a new I-94 entry will be created on my way back? And at that point, I'll be able to enter as an F1 student instead of my current F2 status?

1 Answer 1


No, you can't use PR. As you already know, PR is a U.S. territory, so in terms of immigration it's the same as Florida or Alabama, i.e. the immigration doesn't care. Flights to PR from the mainland are domestic flights, and vice versa.

You MUST go to another country that is outside U.S. borders. The Bahamas, Mexico, Canada or some other Carribean island could work.

  • 2
    "Flights to PR from the mainland are domestic flights, and vice versa." There's some conflicting information on this, as CBP claims non-citizens need a passport to enter the US from a territory, which they don't need for a domestic flight. The San Juan airport front page also seems to say that aliens need a passport.
    – user102008
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 14:32
  • Also, I've read many stories of people getting electronic I-94s, as if they entered, when arriving in the US mainland from Puerto Rico.
    – user102008
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 14:34
  • @user102008 exactly my point. But I guess the passport requirement is so that illegals in PR don't enter US mainland. It is risky. One might just waste the entire round-trip. I would have flown to Canada had Canadian immigration processed my visa application. It's been 5+ weeks since I applied.
    – zoolander
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 6:05
  • OTOH, IIRC F-1 students can visit PR and come back with an expired visa. They're unable to re-enter the country w/o a new visa, so they must have not be considered to have left the country. Also, IIRC at least at BOS, flights from PR arrive at domestic gates. I also tend to think that this requirement is implemented just as a counter measure against illegal immigration and should have no implications on immigration status in principle. So I would advise against trying PR: but flights to the Bahamas should be available and at a similar price though.
    – xuq01
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 6:35
  • 1
    @WaqarAqeel Try Mexico, you shouldn't need a visa to go there (US visa is sufficient).
    – xuq01
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 6:37

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