J1 waiver fulbright granted

strkn

New Member
IGA route?

Indes,

What do you mean by the "IGA route"?

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.

cheers,

les indes galantes
 

mimuller

New Member
This thread has been my lifeline to keep up hope during my own seemingly endless attempt of getting out of the Fulbright home residency requirement. Today, USCIS approved my IGA waiver application (sponsored by NSF), so I wanted to come back and share the good news that it is, indeed, possible to get out of the home residency requirement for Fulbright, even though it is an extremely time, nerve and money-consuming process. I tried the No-Objection route and was denied, then the IGA waiver process took almost a year, during which my AT expired and I had to temporarily move to an O-1 at the last moment. A lot of stress involved, but a happy ending!
 

Ultor

New Member
This thread has been my lifeline to keep up hope during my own seemingly endless attempt of getting out of the Fulbright home residency requirement. Today, USCIS approved my IGA waiver application (sponsored by NSF), so I wanted to come back and share the good news that it is, indeed, possible to get out of the home residency requirement for Fulbright, even though it is an extremely time, nerve and money-consuming process. I tried the No-Objection route and was denied, then the IGA waiver process took almost a year, during which my AT expired and I had to temporarily move to an O-1 at the last moment. A lot of stress involved, but a happy ending!

Congratulations for your liberty! Would you mind giving some details. In which precise institution where you working (university/ national lab/ etc? ) So was your project funded by NSF? or were you working directly with them? Around how much money you think you spent for successfully receiving your waiver? and, were you asked to provide proof of employment efforts by your sponsor institution? Thanks for the help!
 

mimuller

New Member
I am an assistant professor at a US university. I started my appointment on the J-1 Academic Training visa, and received the NSF about halfway through my first three years. It was a substantial grant (~750k), but it did not cover my own salary (except for some summer funding), and I was one of four co-PIs, the only from my field. The process for an NSF waiver is that you first petition directly to NSF, supported by some letters. I had two letters from external experts, and one from the co-PIs, which centered around (a) the national interest of our research agenda and (b) my unique expertise that is crucial for its success, and (c) the fact that I could not continue this research agenda from abroad (because I would likely have had to leave academia in order to find a job in my home country on short notice). No direct lies, but lots of grandiose language, as usual with these things. :) I got the university to pay for it, since it's necessary for my employment, so I did everything with their lawyer... but frankly, they weren't much help. The people from NSF were super friendly, and it didn't seem necessary to have a lawyer file the petition. On their side, I believe they ask for the input of the program manager who funds your grant, so they actually have some expertise in evaluating your claims, and are less swayed by a fancy letterhead. If they decide that they will support you, the official IGA waiver is submitted by them, with the support of your university. That required a few more letters, including one from my chair where he did comment on the competitiveness of the hiring process, among other things. I don't know if that's required, but it definitely does help. And he said something like: We have nobody else in the department who could take over her role. But he didn't have to say that they re-launched a recent effort of hiring someone else. It was enough that he just said he didn't think it would be possible. And then the waiting began. The problem is that the countdown for "normal processing time" on the DoS website only starts once your file is complete. But even once you and NSF have filed everything, your file is incomplete until Fulbright has submitted their "sponsor views". That took four or five months, and there is absolutely nothing you can do to speed it up. It's a bit ridiculous, because it's technically also the DoS, but probably some other division, and there is no way of contacting them, and no way to know how long it will take. And presumably, they say "no" anyways... it's just less relevant to whether a waiver will be granted, because the rationale is that if the interest of NSF is convincing, it trumps the objections of the J-1 sponsor.
For your last question, not counting the O-1, I think the lawyers charged around 5-8k, but again, I'm not sure they added much value honestly. Because at several points in time they gave me factually wrong information, I am pretty sure this was the first time that they went through this process too – and because more was on the line for me, I was actually much better informed about much of the specifics. Plus, everyone at NSF was super friendly and helpful, so I got all the useful information from them. If you have no experience writing convincing drafts for recommendation letters, then hiring someone who is genuinely good with this is probably a good investment. My lawyers left all of the hard lifting to me, and only gave me mostly useless templates that were not even field specific.

With respect to timing, I think the initial poster was spot-on. You want to submit your request when the grant has been ongoing for a little while, so you can more credibly argue that you are already invested in the project and therefore irreplaceable. But you also want about 1.5-2 years remaining, so you can credibly argue that the work is still not completed, and won't be completed without you.

Hope that helps!
 
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