I am trying to plan for my mom who will be traveling from Guam to the US, but she has a connecting flight in Japan, which has a 2-5 hour layover. She has an expired Chinese passport due to the pandemic, but she has a valid US green card. Would she run into any issues at Japan? I'm assuming mainland US should be okay with letting her in, because she's a permanent resident. Please provide input if you have experience or knowledge in this area. Thanks. I just want to make sure she doesn't get stuck in Japan.

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    United Airlines has flights from Guam to Honolulu. It would be much better in her case to get an itinerary that connects through Honolulu to the US mainland, thus staying completely within the US.
    – user102008
    Apr 11, 2021 at 4:02
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    I will probably end up doing this instead of going through Japan. A little bit inconvenient but much better option than having her plans ruined. Thank you! Apr 11, 2021 at 13:50
  • Yeah, she has no right to travel to Japan, so will be refused either at the airline gate, or at Japan immigration and then the airline will get hit by a hefty fine. The airline does not know or care that the person's ultimate destination is the same country. Likewise if you flew Moscow-Beijing-Vladivostok or Vancouver-Chicago-Halifax. Apr 11, 2021 at 20:13
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    Is this flight via Japan on a single ticket? If I'm not mistaken, US law prohibits non-US airlines from selling an itinerary between two points in the US (including Guam) with a stopover in another country. Some third-party ticketing websites will happily sell you two separate tickets if you want to do this itinerary, but that can lead to problems if one of the tickets is delayed or cancelled. If your mother is not a seasoned traveler, I wouldn't recommend such a plan. Apr 12, 2021 at 14:48

2 Answers 2


Your mother's green card allows her to be in the US, and to enter the US, but it has no relevance to Japan. Thus, with an expired Chinese passport and a US green card, she will be denied boarding for the Guam > Japan flight.


She does not have a passport, so it's possible that she will not be able to board the flight to Japan.

A "domestic" flight from Guam to Mainland USA might be possible, but what you're describing is technically an "international" flight to Japan followed by another international flight to USA. If nothing goes wrong, you probably won't have to cross Japanese customs/immigration checks, but what if the flight is delayed and she has to stay overnight? This has happened to me several times, for example in 2016 when a delayed flight to UK resulted in me having to stay at an airline-supplied hotel in UK, which meant I had to go through immigration and customs in UK and get a UK stamp in my passport: it is not uncommon for people to be prohibited from staying in the airport for 24 hours, and in fact some airports in Japan such as Osaka Itami are not open 24 hours/day (you haven't said yet which airport in Japan this will be). If the flight is delayed and she misses the connection, she will not be allowed into Japan without a passport, and will not even be allowed back to China with her expired Chinese passport, so she will be sent back to Guam where she might not have the easiest experience (due again to not having a passport, even though she has proof that she's allowed to live in USA).

I would recommend that she first applies for an "emergency travel document" or a renewed Chinese passport before booking any flights.

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    She wouldn't be able to travel to China without a valid passport.... Generally one cannot travel internationally without a valid passport, but with a valid green card she would be able to enter the US. So I'd agree with applying for an "emergency travel document" or renewing the Chinese passport before booking flights. Apr 11, 2021 at 2:59
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    I looked up what "Emergency Travel Doc" entails, and it looks like the application fee is $575? Yikes. I think I will avoid Japan and the usage of an expired passport for now. Someone recommended Guam -> Hawaii -> mainland US. This can be done with just US green card ight? Apr 11, 2021 at 13:52
  • @numbersguy123 Hawaii is one of the 50 states in the US, so anything sufficient to enter the US will be enough for that route.
    – Douglas
    Apr 11, 2021 at 15:06
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    @Kevin regardless, permanent residents can enter the US with only a green card, so the only problem here is Japan. (Also, the USVI is within the US immigration zone, but there's still an immigration check for noncitizens, thanks to some inconsistent and confusing regulations that are applied inconsistently. Flights from Guam to Hawaii may be treated similarly.)
    – phoog
    Apr 11, 2021 at 21:00
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    @user1271772, the LA office typically travels to Guam each year to do passport renewals but recently they paused all that due to Covid. She plans to get it renewed at NYC once she gets to the mainland US. Apr 11, 2021 at 21:21

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