This article is from the FAQ, by with numerous contributions by others.
It is *not* true that you have to work for the sponsoring agency. Of
course, if you do work for them it helps. More specifically, the
following can happen: one works for a certain company doing research or
other work that will lead into the development of a product or of a
technology that will give the US a market edge or a technological edge.
Clearly, any such claim will have to be backed up by company statements,
descriptions, recommendation letters etc. Then, an alternative route is
through the Department of Commerce. The latter will examine the case and
decide whether they want to apply for a waiver on your behalf with USIA.
Actually, that was my case; I am currently in the period where USIA has
recommended the waiver to INS but the latter have not yet decided. In case
you are wondering about the type of my research, I do work on
computational/molecular biology and pattern matching. Two more alternatives
that I know of are waiver applications sponsored by the Department of Health
(for those that are in health science fields), and by the Department of