A US presidential task force on Puerto Rico has recommended that Congress call a referendum the island's status as a self-governing US commonwealth.
A "Yes" vote would trigger another referendum on whether to make Puerto Rico independent or the 51st US state.
The panel's recommendation is not binding, but the co-chairman, Ruben Barrales, said he hoped it would move the issue forward.
Opinion polls suggest there is little support for independence.
Only 3% of islanders voted in favour of independence in a referendum in 1999.
However, islanders are split over whether to keep their current status or become a US state.
Currently, residents of Puerto Rico are US citizens but cannot vote in US presidential elections.
However, they do elect a non-voting delegate to the US Congress.
Puerto Rico is represented in the US House of Representatives by a delegate who does not vote, except in committees.
Puerto Ricans pay no federal income taxes but receive limited government benefits.