How soon can I apply for J-1 waiver?


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I have just ran into this forum, not sure if the same question was asked by someone before. If you see the same topic elsewhere I would really appreciate you direct me to it.

I have started a postdoctoral fellowship in May 2019 on J-1 visa (3 months in). This is one year fellowship, J-1 is valid through May 2020. I am subject to 2 year home residency requirement. I have 9 months left, I was wondering how early can I start the waiver application? Is it too early if I started now? Do I need to get the waiver approved before I started looking for jobs ( with H-1b or O-1 sponsorship)-I think this might an ideal situation for an employer since they don't have to wait on me until the waiver is approved. Or I could wait until I have a job offer, then apply for J-1 waiver? I assume this may not be great idea but wanted to ask your opinion on this. I would appreciate your suggestions/ sharing your experiences. Thanks.

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