I would like to share my experience as an ex-fulbrighter. I applied for the J1 waiver via the IGA route. This is my timeline:
DoS decision: Favorable recommendation
Item Action Date
Sponsor Views Received November 06, 2006
Recommendation Sent November 06, 2006
Request for Sponsor Views Sent October 18, 2006
IGA Application Cover Letter Received October 17, 2006
Fee Received August 02, 2006
Form DS-3035 Received August 02, 2006
Form DS-2019 Received August 02, 2006
Passport Data Page Received August 02, 2006
Letter of Representation Received August 02, 2006
Statement Of Reason Received August 02, 2006
I received the DoS letter and I-797 notice of action from USCIS at the same time in the mail on November 18.
I consulted at least 20 lawyers before starting the process and most of them told me that my chances to get a waiver were very low. They still wanted to charge me between $1500 to $5000 to work with me on this issue though. These are some things I believe helped me out.
1. 100% of my work is funded by a US government agency.
2. Timing. I waited almost 2 years after finishing my PhD and during my Academic training to start the process. This justified why I am so important to the project I am involved (the more time you spent the more "invaluable" you become).
3. I added great recommendation letters from my PhD advisor, coworkers, my supervisor and other researchers to my application package.
4. My statement of reason was very strong. I communicated the idea of how detrimental it would be for the Gov. Agency if I had to leave now. None of this is for you or your well being, you have to have a sound case on why the US benefits if you stay, even to the point that they won't hold you "accountable" for the 2-year rule.
I hope someone benefits from this info. Sometimes you are lucky, at the right spot, at the right time.
les indes galantes