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Bollywood foreign imports and their visa woes

When Salman Khan was recently denied a work permit to travel to UK for a shoot, it cost the film’s unit an entire overseas schedule. Back home, theatre actor and comedian Gary Richardson apparently had to leave India recently after spending almost a decade in the country without a valid visa. So stringent are the rules for applying, renewing and maintaining work permits across the world that even the crop of foreign actors in Bollywood have to toe the line -- keeping track of their paperwork and making frequent trips back home in order to ensure it’s alright to stay on.

Join the queue
Adnan Sami had been hoping to secure an Indian citizenship. Interestingly, late Yash Chopra agreed to be the singer’s guarantor for his Indian passport. As of now, he holds Canadian passport.

Katrina Kaif
Active since: 2003
Profile: With a British passport in tow, the Hong Kong-born actress is one of the highest-paid actresses around. She has been working in the film industry on an employment visa for almost a decade now.

Katrina Kaif

Status: The validity of the visa begins from the date of issue by the High Commission of India and the duration of the visa is at the sole discretion of the issuing authority. Extensions can be sought.

Nargis Fakhri
Active since: 2011
Profile: The pouty model-turned-actress holds an American passport and her mother is Czech while her father is of Pakistani origin. She made her debut opposite Ranbir Kapoor in Rockstar.

Nargis Fakhri

Status: The consulate grants an employment visa valid for a year irrespective of the duration of the contract signed with the employer. Further extension of up to five years can be obtained too.

Jacqueline Fernandez
Active since: 2009
Profile: After representing Sri Lanka at the Miss Universe pageant, she turned her attention to Bollywood and made her debut in Sujoy Ghosh’s Aladin. She shuttles between Mumbai and Colombo.

Jacqueline Fernandez

Status: A minimum of one year is granted. All the documentation takes place on arrival. Renewal of work permits require proof of employment such as employment letter, photographs etc.

The originals
The following four Bollywood personalities are free to travel in the country given their Indian heritage but as far as employment is concerned, specific formalities are not only considered but also strictly fulfilled as well. In other words, documents are periodically submitted at Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) at regular intervals.

Imran Khan
Active since: 2008
Profile: Born in Wisconsin, Aamir Khan’s bhanja has spent a great deal of his time in India but officially speaking, he is still an American citizen with an American passport. Thankfully, he doesn’t have an accent.

Imran Khan

Sunny Leone
Active since: 2012
Profile: Applicable for Overseas Citizenship Of India (OIC), the actress is of Punjabi origin and holds a Canadian passport. After making her debut in Jism 2, she appears keen on Bollywood projects.

Sunny Leone

Pallavi Sharda
Active since: 2010
Profile: After making her film debut in My Name is Khan, the lawyer-turned-actress is from Melbourne but has now shifted base to Mumbai. She’ll be soon seen opposite Ranbir Kapoor in Besharam.

Pallavi Sharda

Evelyn Sharma
Active since: 2012
Profile: She grew up watching Hindi films dubbed in German. Born to a Punjabi father and German mother, three of her films released this year: Nautanki Saala, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani and Issaq.

Evelyn Sharma

Across the border
Several artistes from Pakistan have become an integral part of showbiz in India but the bureaucracy involved is quite stringent. There are 36 countries to which Pakistanis are allowed to travel without a visa. India is not one of them. Employment visa is still contentious and the Indian embassy clearly states that actors who would be earning an income shouldn’t apply for visitor visa.

Ali Zafar
Active since: 2010
Profile: He has his share of critics in Pakistan who bash him for not acting in Pakistani films but that doesn’t stop him from signing up for Indian projects. Aman Ki Asha, alongside Yaami Gautam is his next.

Atif Aslam
Active since: 2005
Profile: Yet to make his full-fledged acting debut in a Bollywood film, he has been active in the background with his playback singing. He shuttles between Lahore, Mumbai and Dubai.

Veena Malik
Active since: 2012
Profile: Known more for her controversies than her talent, the model-turned-actress has not only worked in Bollywood but also Kannada, Telugu and Punjabi films in the country. Well, she’s here to stay.

Sashaa Agha
Active since: 2012
Profile: Daughter of yesteryear star Salma Agha, Sashaa recently made her debut opposite Arjun Kapoor and Prithviraj in Aurangzeb. She holds a British passport and will be next seen in Yash Raj Films's untitled project.

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