Is H1B Visa good for Travel to Puerto Rico? Does Closed Loop Cruise need a Visa?

Puerto Rico is US territory and travel from US mainland is considered domestic. No new i94 is issued. US driving license can be used as ID.

Written by Anil Gupta
  Anil Gupta    Updated 26 Jun, 24

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Many people who are residing in the USA mainland on a visa like B1, H1B, etc. can travel to Puerto Rico without any additional visa requirements.

Domestic Flight

If you are visiting Puerto Rico and your starting flight is from the US, your flight will be considered a domestic travel flight and you will not go through immigration after landing in Puerto Rico.


If you are flying from Boston to Puerto Rico using Jetblue, Southwest, or a similar domestic flight, then you will end up at the Puerto Rico San Juan Airport’s Domestic terminal.

International Flight

Puerto Rico is a US territory and you only need a valid stamped US visa if you are directly entering PR through any of its international airports like San Juan.


If you are flying directly to Puerto Rico using an international flight that starts from any non-US airport, then you will end up at the international terminal and will need to go through immigration.

This article will discuss:

Expired US visa in the passport

You can travel to Puerto Rico even if your stamped visa in your passport has expired. All the rules of legal stay in the US apply to Puerto Rico.

Your visa extension can be pending at the time of entering and leaving Puerto while your stamped visa has expired.

At the time of leaving the PR airport and returning to the US mainland, they only check the valid photo ID.

You can use any of these valid and unexpired photo IDs:

  1. US driving license – Real ID (Recommended): If you have a US driving license which is considered a real ID, you can show it during the security check to board the flight. A driving license is the best option if you are on a non-immigrant visa.
  2. Passport: You can show your passport. If you show the passport, they may or may not check the visa stamp validity. If your visa stamp has expired, do carry the i797 approval (original preferred) to prove your legal status in the US.
  3. Any other Photo ID

Do they check the Child/Kid Photo ID?

The process at Puerto Rico domestic airport security check is the same as at any domestic US airport.

They may just check the kid’s passport (as photo ID) or may only scan his/her boarding pass. Usually, for domestic flights, a security check for kids under 18 involves only scanning their boarding passes.

Duty-Free shops at San Juan Airport

You are able to buy duty-free products even with landing or taking a domestic flight.

There is no sales tax charged and is promoted or advertised heavily while you are exiting the airport. You can buy the items and bring them to the US mainland without declaring them at customs through domestic flights.

Closed Loop Cruise from Puerto Rico

There are many cruises like Norwegian that start from Puerto Rico and stop at various Caribbean islands before returning to Puerto Rico itself.

When a cruise returns to the same port where it started from, it is called a closed-loop cruise.

In the case of this closed loop, the cruise will check and record your US immigration status at the time of boarding itself. They will also ask you to have a valid visa or Advance parole to return to the US.


H1B, H4, L visa

If you have an H1B visa, then you will need to have a valid visa as you cannot use the AVR (30-day return) process which allows re-entry even with an expired visa stamp in the passport.

F1, J1 visa

Travelers who are on an F visa or J visa status are allowed to visit adjacent islands to the U.S. i.e. the Caribbean but not H1B, H4, L, or other such visas.

EAD/Advance parole

You are allowed to travel outside the USA using the advance parole. Make sure that the AP is valid on the date of the cruise return to the US port.


Can H1B travel to Puerto Rico?

Yes, you can travel to Puerto Rico on an H1-B visa.

Travel to PR is considered domestic travel just like traveling between any US mainland states.

Is a new I94 issued after traveling to Puerto Rico?

New i94 is NOT issued after returning from Puerto Rico to the US mainland.

Is there any CBP immigration check at Puerto Rico Airport?

There is no CBP immigration check at domestic airports or terminals within the airport.

There may be random CBP checks while boarding the flight going to the US mainland. This is normal and does not happen every day. This same random check happens on the US mainland airports as well.

If you are landing in Puerto Rico as your port-of-entry to the US via an international flight, then, yes, there will be a CBP immigration check and you will have to present a valid US visa to enter.


Written by Anil Gupta
  Anil Gupta  
Mentor | Immigration and Finance Journalism | Humor | Opinions are my own