Ok. You’ve decided to dedicate your time and effort to prepare an application. You are fluent in English, have strong academic references, personal qualities, and desire to experience something new. Now it’s time to get busy! At this point you should read the application instructions on the web page of the US Embassy closest to you.
It is desired, that you already know what your research field (or even problem) is going to be during your research visit. If possible, you should write this with your home or foreign adviser, so it matches your desired PhD thesis proposal. Since there are a lot of different instructions available on the Web, I put together a mind map that presents the most important facts you should list.
Below is a scheme that outlines what a personal statement letter should be. I distilled the information from multiple online sources and personal experience of numerous Fulbrighters. It should give you some idea on how to write one.
In the online application there is a special item in the menu, where you can add your Fulbright references. Three letters of recommendation are required. Even though it seems that this is the part of your application you can influence the least, I ensure you, it’s not! It is not only who you ask to be your recommender, but also how you approach and what you ask them to do, that counts.
Yes! If you made it this far, you presented yourself well in your application. You made the IIE people curious, and they want to meet you in person. Just like for the application, there is also a lot you can do to prepare for the interview. A lot of “highly conceptual” stuff has already been written elsewhere about this topic, so I’ll just share my experience. It is always a good anecdote when I explain people about how my interview went.