"Even after spending 7 years in this country, I still feel I'm not a part of mainstream America," Jaiswal said. "In 2010, I thought, 'This is America. Everyone is welcome. There is no discrimination.' But when I came here, after three years, I realized, this is not the case."
Indians are among the top nationalities that naturalize as American each year, according to immigration regulators.
But it's a much more arduous path than other countries. While many Indian immigrants enter the U.S. each year on temporary H-1B visas, permanent residency green cards are capped: Only 7 percent of green cards can be issued to nationals of each country each year.
That means up to 70 percent of H-1B visa holders are competing for less than 7 percent of green cards allotted to Indians each year.
"From the time that you decide to settle in America to the time you get a green card is a 10 year journey," Kapadia said. "During 10 years, you've contributed to the society legally and you're on the path to citizenship. That's a journey."
Rishi Bhilawadikar released a new film this spring, "For Here or to Go," about Indians' journey through the U.S. immigration system.
"The pathway to getting the green card is just very, very difficult," Bhilawadikar said. "If you come from India and China, you go to the back of the line...the most productive years of your life you're stuck in limbo."
He has had to stay at large companies to sponsor his visa, limiting his career growth. That's not uncommon, said Manan Mehta. Mehta runs Unshackled, an early stage venture fund for immigrant-founded start-ups, which helps founders navigate the U.S. immigration system.
"You are completely beholden to your employer, and they are completely beholden to circumstances," Bhilawadikar said.
Despite spending all of his twenties in U.S. universities and jobs, until he gets a green card, Jaiswal can't permanently call the U.S. home. Jaiswal, who got his H-1B visa in 2013, said he feels he's behind his childhood friends who decided to go to school in places like Canda, where they could quickly naturalize.
"I would definitely do it differently," Jaiswal said. "If you took me back before 2010, rewound the time. I would not come here. I would go someplace else. Because I came for my education — I could have gone many other places, but I chose the U.S. It doesn't matter if I live here or I don't live here, I love this country. It's an awesome country..... but if you look at it what is happening to us, I would have thought about other options."
But as it stands, Jaiswal wants to stay in the U.S.— he actively meets with politicians across the country advocating for immigration reform. Going back to India now means leaving his professional network and friends he has known his whole adult life, and his wife, who attends graduate school in New York City.
"I have friends here," Jaiswal said. "I'm not in touch with many people there. Now I'm in my 30s. If I go back, I would be starting from scratch."
He said that he would rather have known how hard it would be to become a permanent resident at the beginning, so he could have made the best choice.
"If I had been applying for my H-1B and there was the 7 percent cap [like with green cards] ... at least I would have clarity of thought," Jaiswal said. "They cannot block us when we are at the finishing line. Before the race starts, if you are going to run further, you're going to get stuck."
— CNBC's Aditi Roy contributed to this report.
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