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z (31 Jul 2011 11:42): Hi Paul, have a few questions regarding visas from a housemate:

1. How long does the J1 visa last? Five years? How to find out?
2. Person plans to stay in the US for 2 years, what happens if the J1 visa expires in that time? If the visa needs to be renewed (if it can be 'renewed') what is the process?
3. After 2 years, person goes back to home country (China), does person have to do service there for 2 years before applying for another J1 visa (if that is possible) to the US or to a third country? I think person is asking whether the home country service is a US-imposed rule or a China-imposed rule...

OK, these questions were confusing and illogical to me too, but I think the person's scenario is person is on visit here at a university for 2 years, then plans to go back to China to defend dissertation, by which time J1 visa maybe will have expired (but person doesn't know for sure), yet person still wants to come back to US to continue research. Person wants to how long is it permitted to stay in the US on J1, and how to come back.

Thanks Paul..