Problems Foreign-Born Actors Face In The U.S. (Including O-1 Artist Visa) by Karan Choudhary

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Hi guys, my name is Karan Choudhary and I was born and raised in a small town Faridabad in India. Before becoming an actor, I was a salesman in a clothing store and I used to sell shoes and clothes in Connaught Place, New Delhi.

And right after that I became a gym trainer. I was a trainer for about three to four years and after that I moved to Bombay to pursue my career as a model and actor.

In 2013 I applied at The Neighborhood Playhouse to study acting in New York City, moving here in 2013. Since then I’m actively pursuing acting and recently I started making my own projects.

Last year I made a documentary (DEDICATION) and this year I made a short film called NEW YORK’D. I wrote it, produced it, directed and acted in it.

NEW YORK’D has been accepted in many film festivals and we have won about five awards in various categories.

The number one problem that I am facing (and I’m sure a lot of people who come from different countries are still facing) is having to deal with their immigration status.

People who come from different countries and to pursue their career as an actor in this country (United States) have to have the Artist Visa. It’s really hard to get an Artist Visa. Even if you have the Artist Visa, a lot of the production (film and TV both) would still not give you the job because they consider people who have green cards or people who are citizens of this country. So all that work that you put into getting the O-1 Artist Visa, it’s almost useless. The only way to get the jobs and pursue a successful acting career is to get a green card.

And how I am facing that problem and trying to solve it is by making my own projects.

The faster you can apply for the green card, the better for you. And a way to do it is make as many projects as you can, take them to the film festival, let’s see if they win some awards. Get press. And then once you have enough projects about yourself, then you can apply for the green card and the chances are you will be much more successful.


“There’s another problem I face and I’m sure a lot of first-time filmmakers are still facing, having finished their first film, how do they take it to their audience (especially to the film festivals)?”


Karan Choudhary and Kyle McIlhone rehearse for a scene for NEW YORK’D Movie

Another problem that I’m facing is financing for projects. I had an idea. I wrote a script and now I’m going into production. But when it comes to budgeting, I was surprised that turning a script into a film is way harder than I thought. So what I did budgeting-wise is my latest film NEW YORK’D was originally written according to night sequences. So we turned the night sequences into day sequences, so that saved me money on the lighting.

There was a lot of shots of which I planned in Time Square which is really, really hard to get along with the equipment, crew and especially shooting and retakes.

What I did was I took all those sequences and put it in a Greenwich Village street, which are much easier to shoot and much nicer to look at on camera.

The other problem was the crew. So a lot of jobs were distributed to my actors, myself (I was doing probably three or four jobs on the day of shooting) so I cut a lot of crew and that saved me a lot of money. That’s how I was able to shoot NEW YORK’D under a very limited budget and in just one day.

There’s another problem I face and I’m sure a lot of first-time filmmakers are still facing, that they have finished their first film, how do they take it to their audience (especially to the film festivals)?

If you go on Film Freeway’s site, there’s about six to seven thousand festivals listed. Each festival would cost you from $30 to $60. If you decide to submit your film in 20 festivals, that’s going to cost you a lot of money.


Watch the trailer to New York’d on Amazon here


What I did is I wrote a personal email to every film festival that I wanted to submit and even more. I sent a personal email to more than a thousand film festivals saying I’m an immigrant. This is my first film. And all I want is some sort of a discount or waiver. And you would be surprised what a success it was. I was successful in 90% of the time.

I submitted by second film NEW YORK’D in 60 film festivals and 50 of those film festivals gave me full waiver.

All you’ve got to do is ask because the answer is always no until you ask.

Thank you so much for watching this video. I would love to know what kind of problems you are facing, especially if you happen to be from a different country or any other visa problem. Or if you’re an actor trying to make your own projects and the problems you are facing.

Thank you so much guys. Bye!

Karan Choudhary Bio:

Karan Choudhary was born on November, 1989 and raised in Faridabad, India. Mr. Choudhary is currently based in New York City where he is successfully pursuing his acting and filmmaking career. 

Before his move to New York, Karan worked as a model in Mumbai while he also studied theatre. He moved to New York in 2013 after being accepted to the famous Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. There, like his famous predecessors, some of the greatest actors of all time, Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck, Diane Keaton, and Allison Janney, he studied the Sanford Meisner technique of acting. 

Upon his arrival in the USA, acting became and continues to be Karan’s 24/7 priority. He started working as a professional actor immediately after leaving The Neighborhood Playhouse in 2015. Since that time he has been seen in several TV commercials both national and regional. They include: The History Channel, T-Mobile, Bud Light Beer, Captain Morgan Rum, Perrier Sparkling Water, Budweiser Beer, Canon Cameras, Stella Artois Beer, NYU Langone Hospitals, On Vocal Headphones, Intercontinental Hotels. He has also appeared in many indie projects including, among others: “Mommy Heist” (a Short film), “Careful What You Wish For” (a Short film), and “Callie & Izzy” (a Web series.) 

In 2017 Mr. Choudhary began making his own short films not only for the experience it gave him but also to create opportunities not only for himself but for other fellow artists. His first film, a short documentary called “Dedication” made in 2017, was very well received in Film Festivals globally. It had four nominations and two wins for Best Short Documentary and Best Message. In 2018 he made another narrative short, a comedy called “New York’d” which is currently showing in film festivals throughout the circuit. At this writing, it has already garnered four nominations and three wins. With virtually no experience in the business end of filmmaking, Mr. Choudhary successfully managed to find a film distributor for both his films and was also able to sell them. Both films are now available on the streaming platforms, Amazon Prime and

While continuing to peruse his acting career, Karan is also in pre-production for two upcoming short films which he will be producing and directing yet this year. Mr. Choudhary continues to be inspired by the work of actors like Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Katharine Hepburn, and Meryl Streep, and by the extraordinary work of such filmmakers as Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, Orson Wells and Elia Kazan. 



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Watch the trailer to New York’d on Amazon here

There are days when New York City seems to open its doors to you and every single piece falls nicely into place supporting the dream that brought you to that big wonderful city. Then there are the other days…the days when those same pieces become ill-fitting sharp-edged shards ganging up against you and any goal you may have. Those are the days when the cruel heartless city itself seems to be conspiring against you. Those are the days you know you’ve been…New YORK’d. It WILL happen to you…