Travel Advise

1.Invitation Letters

If you need a letter of invitation in order to obtain funding to attend the GCGI conference or obtain a U.S. visa, just email with your request. Please include all necessary details: addressee, contents of letter needed, etc.

2. Visiting the U.S.

Note: All the following information was downloaded from U.S. government (.gov) websites on March 15, 2022, and links are provided. The GCGI has no expertise in visa requirements or travel requirements in general, and participants are responsible for making sure that their travel arrangements are properly authorized by the U.S. government.

A.COVID-19 rules

Basically, you must be up-to-date on vaccinations and must show a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before you will be allowed to travel to the U.S. by air:

B. Visas

A foreign national traveling to the United States for tourism or to conduct temporary business must have a visitor visa (B-2) unless he or she qualifies for entry under the Visa Waiver Program. Temporary business includes attending a business convention or conference (among other things)

C. Visa Waiver Program General requirements: In order to participate in the visa waiver program, you must meet all of the requirements. You must 1. be a citizen or nation of a participating country, 2. your travel purpose must be one otherwise permitted on a visitor visa, 3. your passport must be good for at least another 6 months, and 4. you must have a valid ESTA.
• Andorra
• Australia
• Austria
• Belgium
• Brunei
• Chile
• Croatia
• Czech Republic
• Denmark
• Estonia
• Finland
• France
• Germany
• Greece
• Hungary
• Iceland
• Ireland
• Italy
• Japan
• Latvia
• Liechtenstein
• Lithuania
• Luxembourg
• Malta
• Monaco
• Netherlands
• New Zealand
• Norway
• Poland
• Portugal
• San Marino
• Singapore
• Slovakia
• Slovenia
• South Korea
• Spain
• Sweden
• Switzerland
• Taiwan*
• United Kingdom**
**To be eligible to travel under the VWP, British citizens must have the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.
Under the 2015 Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, you do not qualify for the VWP if, even though you are a citizen of a listed country, if you visited one of the 7 countries listed as sponsoring terrorism (e.g., North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia . . .). If that is the case, you must apply to a U.S. embassy for a visa.

2. Travel Purpose:

As indicated above, attending a professional conference in the U.S., such as the GCGI, is a business purpose and therefore within the scope of the VWP (as is short-term tourism, if you will have family members accompanying you).

3. Each Traveler Must Have a Valid ESTA:
In order to travel without a visa on the VWP, you must have authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a U.S. bound air or sea carrier. ESTA is a web-based system operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to determine eligibility to travel under the VWP to the United States for tourism or business.

Updating Your ESTA
In most cases, your ESTA will be valid for two years. You also must obtain a new ESTA if you: (1) receive a new passport, including an emergency or temporary passport; (2) change your name; (3) change your gender; (4) change your country of citizenship; or (5) need to change your responses to any of the “yes” or “no” questions on the ESTA application. If that is the case you can apply for a visa through regular appointment processes at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, which may expedite the application process if necessary.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection strongly recommends that any traveler to the United States check his or her ESTA status prior to making any travel reservations or travelling to the United States. More information is available on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website.

4. Each traveler must have an e-Passport good for at least 6 months after planned departure from the U.S.

You must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your planned departure from the United States (unless exempted by country-specific agreements). For families, each member of your family, including infants and children, must have his/her own passport.
In addition, you must have an e-passport to use the VWP. An e-passport is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip. The chip can be scanned to match the identity of the traveler to the passport.

3. Airports

Two airports are available: New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong Airport (MSY) and Baton Rouge (BTR). BTR is much closer than MSY, but typically flights are limited and generally cost about $100 USD more than flights into and out of MSY.

• BTR is approximately 4.6 kilometers (2.9 miles) from Southern University and 11.7 kilometers (7.3 miles) from the conference hotel, the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center. The Hilton has a free airport shuttle to and from BTR.
• MSY is a new, larger, and busier airport, but it is located 120 km (75 miles) from BTR. Transportation from it to Baton Rouge may be difficult: no train service or direct public transportation operates between the two airports. You would probably need to arrange your own ground transportation, which could include renting a car or arranging car service, either of which may cost more than the difference in air fare. There is limited bus service provided by three private bus companies (as of the time of this writing), but they all operate from bus station to bus station, none offer pick-up at either airport.

4. Ground Transportation

If you choose to use MSY, bear in mind that you will need ground transportation. There is no public transportation or train service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, but there are three bus services with routes between bus stations in downtown areas of both cities ($), or you can hire a car service ($$$), or you can rent a car ($$-$$$). If you choose to use a bus service, you will still need to arrange taxi/Lyft/Uber transportation between the airport and the bus station.

Bus Services

a. Flixbus USA runs two trips a day between the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal in downtown New Orleans and downtown Baton Rouge, the travel time is 1 hour, 20 minutes and the cost ranges between $6 and $26 USD:
b. Megabus has one bus/day between the two cities, 1 hour 20 minutes, cost ranging from $19 and $27 USD:
c. Greyhound has 6 busses/day, 1 hour 40 + minutes, $15-$40 USD:

Alternatives: Car services, Lyft/Uber, renting a car: The drive between New Orleans and Baton Rouge is via the I-10 expressway, a 4-6 lane highway that is quite flat and straight. Normally it takes approximately 1 ½ hours. Bear in mind that if you rent a car at the New Orleans airport, it will take an additional ½ hour to get the shuttle from MSY to the rental car facility, which remained on the premises of the old MSY campus.

5. Location of the Hotel

The Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center is located at 201 Lafayette street, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802, in the center of the downtown area, ½ block from the Mississippi river, and an easy walk to restaurants and local tourist attractions. It is a comparatively small, quiet, and safe downtown area though as with all urban areas, be cautious about walking around late at night. SULC will provide transportation to and from the conference 1x/day in each direction (depart for SULC in the morning, return at the end of the day).

6. Location of SULC

Southern University Law Center is located at 2 Roosevelt Steptoe Drive, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70813. It is 14 kilometers (9 miles) north of the hotel, in a neighborhood that is mixed industrial and residential and less wealthy than some other Baton Rouge neighborhoods. Crime levels are higher then in some other Baton Rouge neighborhoods. While it is relatively safe on campus, use caution, especially at night.

7. Baton Rouge

From the French for ‘red stick’, Baton Rouge is the capital of the state of Louisiana and sits on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River. According to the most recent census, its population is 227,470, while that of the greater Baton Rouge area is 456,781, exceeded in Louisiana only by New Orleans. Its foundation was strategic – it is. Situated on the first natural bluff upriver from the Gulf of Mexico, so unlike New Orleans, its business quarter was safe from seasonal flooding, though a levee system has since been built to enhance that safety. In addition to being the state capitol, Batton Rouge is a major industrial, petrochemical, medical research, motion picture, and growing technology center in the American South. The Port of Greater Baton Rouge is the 10th largest in the U.S. in terms of tonnage shipped and is the farthest upstream Mississippi River port capable of handling Panamax ships.
Baton Rouge is home to two state universities: Louisiana State University and Southern University. Southern University System is the only Historically Black University System in the United States, encompassing four separate accredited entities: Southern University & A.&.M. College in Baton Rouge (SU), Southern University Law Center (SULC), (Southern University New Orleans (SUNO), and Southern University in Shreveport. The Baton Rouge land mass, which is shared by SU and SULC, is situated upriver from downtown Baton Rouge on Scott’s Bluff, at a bend in the Mississippi. Scott’s Bluff is a beautiful place to sit for a picnic or watch the sunset over the Mississippi.
Things to Do in Baton Rouge: Just a few suggestions
a. Downtown, one can tour both the new and the old State Capitols; visit the U.S.S. Kidd, a Fletcher-class destroyer (named after Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who died on the bridge of his flagship USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor); visit the Louisiana Art and Science Museum and the Capital Park Museum; dine in a number of restaurants. (Maybe watch the sunset over the Mississippi from the top of the Shaw Center’s Tsunami Bar and Restaurant).
b. Slightly farther afield: LSU Rural Life Museum, Magnolia Mound, Knock Knock Children’s Museum, Baton Rouge Zoo, . . .