Saturday, July 07, 2012

Visiting the USA with Firearm. Rule Change

The requirement to have a hunting license or shoot invitation to support the ATF Form 6NIA is no longer a requirement (If you don't require a VISA to enter the USA).

The new ATF Form 6NAI has not been published.

Any questions should be addressed to:
Firearms and Explosives Imports Branch
244 Needy Road
Martinsburg, West Virginia 25405

Phone: (304) 616-4550


Federal Register /Vol. 77, No. 110 /Thursday, June 7, 2012 /Rules and Regulations

V. The Present Final Rule

Upon review of the comments and in light of the OLC opinion, the Department is issuing a final rule that applies to the firearms disabilities in section 922(d)(5)(B) and 922(g)(5)(B) only to aliens admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa, as that term is defined in section 101(a)(26) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(26)). Nonimmigrant aliens lawfully admitted to the United States without a visa, pursuant either to the Visa Waiver Program or other exemptions from visa requirements, will not be prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing firearms or ammunition, and the regulations will also no longer proscribe the sale or other disposition of firearms or ammunition to such nonimmigrant aliens.3 Accordingly, this final rule makes conforming revisions to the regulations in 27 CFR 478.32, 478.44, 478.45, 478.99, 478.120, and 478.124. The final rule also amends the regulations by adding a definition for the term ‘‘Nonimmigrant visa’’ that mirrors the definition in section 101(a)(26) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(26)). ATF will be  making conforming changes to the Form 4473 and its instructions. ATF is also making purely clarifying changes to the language of §§ 478.44 and 478.45 to more clearly state the statutory exceptions.

In addition, ATF is adding language in § 478.120(a) (and will also be revising the Form 6NIA) to make clear that nonimmigrants lawfully admitted to the United States without a visa will continue to be required to apply for and obtain an approved Form 6NIA if they are temporarily importing or bringing firearms or ammunition into the United States for lawful hunting or sporting purposes. The amended § 478.120, however, will no longer require nonimmigrant aliens admitted to the United States without a visa to submit documentation that they fall within one
of the exceptions in 18 U.S.C. 922(y)(2) or the waiver in section 922(y)(3).4

The existing provisions of § 478.120 are being recodified in paragraph (b), which deals with aliens who are admitted under a nonimmigrant visa (and who are required to submit such documentation). In the 2002 interim rule, ATF explained its reasons for imposing a requirement that nonimmigrants bringing firearms and ammunition into the United States for hunting or sporting purposes obtain an import permit. See 67 FR at 5424; see also 27 CFR 478.115(e) (‘‘Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (d) (1), (2), (3), (4) and (5) of this section, the [Attorney General] or his delegate may in the interest of public safety and necessity require a permit for the importation or bringing into the United States of any firearms or ammunition.’’).

Even though aliens admitted to the United States who did not require a nonimmigrant visa will no longer be subject to the nonimmigrant prohibition on possession of firearms, the 2002 interim rule also cited two additional reasons for requiring all nonimmigrant aliens seeking to bring firearms or ammunition into the United States to obtain import permits: ‘‘It will also enable ATF to be aware of non-immigrant aliens who are bringing or attempting to bring firearms or ammunition into the United States. Finally, it will ensure nonimportable firearms and ammunition do not enter the United States.’’ 67 FR 5424.

In short, the permit process is designed to ensure that the nonimmigrant aliens can lawfully possess a firearm in the United States (i.e., that they do not fall within any of the other statutory prohibitions on possession of firearms) and it gives ATF an opportunity to conduct a background check on the applicant if warranted.5 Thus, the language of § 478.120(a) makes no change in the status quo for nonimmigrant aliens lawfully admitted to the United States without a visa, except that they will no longer be required to submit documentation that they fall within one of the statutory exceptions for the nonimmigrant prohibition, consistent with the changes being made in this final rule.

The remaining issues raised in the interim rule (including other issues with respect to the regulations in 27 CFR 478.120 on importation of firearms and ammunition), along with a discussion of the comments received in response to these aspects of the interim rule, will be addressed in a separate, forthcoming final rule.6

June 7, 2012 /Rules and Regulations


UPDATE: July 10, 2012

I talked to ATF.

The rule for not requiring a Hunting License or Shoot Invitation is effective July 9, 2012. You will still need to process an application

This rule change is only for those who entry into the USA and DON'T require a VISA.

A new form is being expedited, but ATF does not know when it will be published, as they don't control that part of the process  (I check for a new from daily).

ATF will process your form without the Hunting License or Shoot Invitation, but be prepared to have problems with US Customs (my words) as it will take time to bring them up to speed, especially if your using the older ATF Form 6NIA.  ATF said you can have U.S. customs call them if they have any questions.  In the short term I suggest you still use the Hunting License or Shoot Invitation option until the new form is published, but that is your decision to make.


Also, I asked about the ability to Email the application as a PDF to the ATF for approval, instead of having to FAX, as presently the ATF will email back the approved application as a PDF attachment.

Not this year, but in the next few years the plan is in the works to be able to submit all ATF forms electronically. No longer having too FAX.

Joe Potosky
The Lost Target


  1. What about the requirement to provide a Canadian Registration # now that the long gun registry is abolished and no new #,s are available??

  2. Hand guns still require registration. For a long gun, put in N/A

    General Information #23 on the registration form.