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Utah Gun Laws: Recent Changes and Their Impact on Non-Immigrant Visa Holders

Utah residents, especially non-immigrant visa holders, have found themselves perplexed about their firearm rights following a series of legislative amendments. John Rodrigues, a Brazil-born Utah concealed carry instructor, indicated that these changes directly impact many of his students, who are primarily non-immigrant visa holders studying in the US.

Rodrigues learned of the upcoming changes via an email from the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI). The communication was about House Bill 225, making it illegal for non-immigrant aliens to purchase firearms or apply for concealed firearm permits in Utah, unless they possessed a hunting license and a visa intended for hunting/sporting purposes. This update led to widespread confusion among gun shops, who were uncertain of the eligibility of non-immigrant visa holders to purchase firearms.

In a statement issued by the Bureau of Criminal Identification, they said in part:

“After the passage of HB225, BCI informed approximately 2,000 Concealed Firearm Permit (CFP) instructors, which made it illegal for non-immigrant aliens to purchase firearms in Utah, rendering them ineligible for a CFP, unless they had a valid hunting license and a visa specifically for hunting/sporting purposes. A follow-up letter notified instructors that the language in HB225 was under reconsideration by the Utah State Legislature. During the special session, HB1002 removed language affecting non-immigrant aliens and firearms and was signed into law on May 18, 2023.”

Despite the legislative reversal, misinformation persists, causing many gun stores to deny sales to international students. Rodrigues and Willy Ludlow, the manager at Ready Gunner Gun Shop, urge gun owners and dealers to reach out to the BCI for clarity on current regulations.

Ludlow’s gun shop confirmed the legal status with BCI before selling to a Brazilian customer, proving that legal sales to non-immigrant visa holders are still permissible.

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