A second case, however, was a bit more problematic. It involved an Iranian student properly in the United States on a student visa who wanted to buy an iPhone. The writer at the Consumerist, naturally being an expert on export law, quickly disposed of this issue.
In the second case, of the man here on a student visa, you might be able to make that argument, though it’s really just the exporting of goods to Iran — and not the sale of items to Iranians in the U.S. — that is embargoed.
Well, we must give the Consumerist guy some points for effort, but the issue is just a little more complicated than that. First, you can’t sell anything to an Iranian in the United States if you have any reason to believe that the item might be exported back to Iran by the purchaser. In the case of an iPhone, which is probably locked to a U.S. carrier, the export of that item seems unlikely.
Second, you can’t forget about the “deemed export” rules which could forbid transfer of certain technology to Iranian citizens in the United States, even on a legitimate visa.