I'm not sure what the industry you work in is like however in my experience every time I've applied for a job the time between applying and actually starting had always been 2-3 months. Interviews, contracts, medicals, etc seem to take forever. If you apply now, I doubt they would even look at your application until after NY, then do interviews, organise contracts, etc - you prob wouldn't start until March at the earliest. That's only 2 months before you were going to go back anyway. Another option is to say in the interview that you can't start until after a certain date. The other candidates would need to give their current employers 4 weeks notice so that shouldn't put you at a disadvantage.