Visa Services
Duke University School of Medicine School of Nursing Health System International House
Firearms

Nonimmigrant Aliens Not Permitted to Possess Firearms

In 1998, Public Law 105-277 amended the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968 and made it illegal for nonimmigrant aliens to possess or transport firearms or ammunition in the United States. On 05 February the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms of the United States Department of the Treasury published regulations that became effective on 19 February 2002.

1. Exactly what is the rule?
2. If this law was passed in 1998, why are we just hearing about it now?
3. I am a student or scholar busy with my study or work. Why are you telling me about this?
4. Don’t I have a constitutional right to own a gun? Isn’t this prohibition a violation of my Second Amendment rights?
5. I or someone I know may be affected by this rule. What should I do?
   
 
1. Exactly what is the rule?
 

In general, persons who have nonimmigrant status in the U.S. (examples: B, F, J, H, O, TN) are not permitted to possess or transport firearms or ammunition in the United States. The law provides for some exceptions for persons who wish to use firearms for sports or hunting or for those who are representatives of or employed by friendly foreign governments. In all cases, special permission must be specifically granted and cannot be assumed.

For the full text of the regulation see the Federal Register Notice of 05 February 2002, pages 5422-5427, at

http://www.atf.treas.gov/regulations/td471.pdf

For the Treasury notice regarding this regulation, see the Treasury press release at

http://www.atf.treas.gov/press/fy02press/020502alienfirearmregs.htm

For a copy of the new form that requires identification of aliens in a firearms transaction, see the Firearms Transaction Notice form at

http://www.atf.treas.gov/forms/4473/index.htm .

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2. If this law was passed in 1998, why are we just hearing about it now?
 

The language of the law was confusing and required extensive discussion and interpretation among the Department of Treasury, the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Citizenship & Immigration Services, and other affected government offices. The events of September 11 accelerated the pace of those discussions. The interim regulations have now been published and are in effect.

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3. I am a student or scholar busy with my study or work. Why are you telling me about this?
 

Duke’s international students and scholars come from diverse backgrounds with a wide range of interests and experiences. North Carolina state law and Duke University policy prohibit the possession of firearms on any university property, but many students and scholars live off campus. Sport shooting is becoming an increasingly popular pastime as evidenced by the increase in the number of shooting ranges in and near cities. Many people hunt as a sport. Some people wish to acquire firearms for personal protection.

We are providing this information so that members of our international community who have an interest in owning firearms will be aware of the restrictions and special procedures associated with that choice.

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4. Don’t I have a constitutional right to own a gun? Isn’t this prohibition a violation of my Second Amendment rights?
 

While the right of the people to bear arms is protected under the Constitution, Congress has the authority to pass laws regarding how that right is protected or limited relative to other rights and to the safety of the people. Note that the law does not completely forbid the possession of firearms. Instead, it sets strict limitations on who may possess them and under what conditions. Further, Congress has broad powers to limit the admission to and activities of aliens in the U.S.

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5. I or someone I know may be affected by this rule. What should I do?
  Contact an immigration lawyer. While an immigration lawyer would not normally deal with firearms issues, this particular law affects aliens differently from citizens. Most immigration lawyers will be able to research the law, contact attorney colleagues in other areas of law, and give you the information you need. For more information regarding immigration lawyers see Working With Imagration Attorneys.
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7. Duke is a nonprofit organization. Why can’t I volunteer at Duke in any job I choose?
  You may certainly volunteer for those activities at Duke that are normally done by volunteers.

Go to the Duke University web site and type in the word "volunteer" in the "search" location. You will find dozens of volunteer opportunities at the University, Medical Center, and Health System.

Many Duke student groups also organize community service volunteer activities. Duke also has over 20,000 employees who carry on the work of the institution. Performing one of these jobs is not a volunteer activity. Duke job names and descriptions appear on the Duke HR web site.

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8. I still have questions about this. Who can answer my questions?
  Contact Visa Services by sending a message to VISAHELP@mc.duke.edu or call the office at 681-8472.
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