(ABC4) – Are Puerto Ricans considered U.S citizens? The short answer is yes, but they do not have all the same rights and policies as U.S. born citizens.
Puerto Rico is considered an organized, unincorporated territory. This means they are self-governing without an automatic constitutional law placed on them, but they are owned by the United States. Over 3.7 million people live in Puerto Rico and for the most part they are treated similarly to D.C.
They can have representatives at congress meetings, but they cannot vote in general elections. They can however vote in presidential primaries. Puerto Ricans do not pay federal income taxes but do have to pay state, local and income taxes.
Puerto Ricans also receive less Medicaid than U.S. states. They must pay the same FICA taxes as the United States but are not eligible for Supplemental Security Income.
Since Puerto Ricans are considered citizens, they can move and live in the United States freely and have full citizenship priviledges even if they were born there. Puerto Rico however is not the only territory that has this status. Residents of Guam, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands are also considered citizens.
Those living in Samoa however are not considered citizens. They are considered American Nationalists who can live, work or study in the U.S but cannot vote in any way unless they go through the immigration process like any other foreigner.
Finally, the last special case to consider are the three nations of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and the island of Palau.
These nations each have a seat in the U.N. and a special relationship with the United States. These nations are considered a Compact of Free Association. This relationship comes with the agreement that the U.S. can build military bases on these islands and will then allow residents to live and work in the United States freely like Samoa without voting rights.