Sentri Card Experience

Saturday, February 17, 2024 2:11 AM
A few years ago standing in the heat, in a three hour line to walk over the border at PedEast with Pedwest closed at that time and watching a few people walk right to the front with their Sentri card, I thought to myself, I really needed to get one. Sentri allows for expedited crossing across the border plus TSA pre-check for domestic US flights. I filled out the online application on the TSA site and paid the initial $25. I was conditionally approved pending interview pretty fast. Most of the process was fast and easy except for getting the interview time. So to receive the Sentri card you must go to a in person interview. Since the Sentri card is for Mexico border crossing, the in person (only) interview locations are near the Mexican border locations across Texas, Arizona and California. For me, San Diego is most convenient so I chose that office. The problem with San Diego, the next appointment times are a year out. Looking at the other locations across Texas and Arizona, some are only a few days or a week for an appointment. Some even have same day but not San Diego. I did this two years ago and a year ago I noticed my appointment was approaching and I was too busy to go to San Diego then so I rescheduled (online, easy) for the next appointment which again was another year out. This time, I decided to make the appointment. The location of the office is at the Otay Mesa border crossing. While waiting, I was thinking if I should just walk across and taken a cab to Cascadas Hotel or Uber back to San Ysidro to PedEast and then catch another HK limo ride to hotel. I chose the later to allow less driving through TJ versus SD. At the SD branch, only the person with the interview is allowed in after verify appointment time and ID in front of the building. No earlier than 30 minutes before the appointment time are you allowed inside. Prior to coming you are emailed with specific documentation needed. They asked for ID and passport BOOK, pass card is not acceptable. They also asked for documents like birth certificate, utility bill, mortgage statement yet all that wasn't needed for my interview. I would advise to bring everything. Once inside, it is like a DMV office with about 15 - 20 stand up window teller spots. You first go to window 1 and she confirms your appointment time and an agent takes your file they had ready for your arrival. You sit in the middle of the room with rows of blue plastic chairs with about 15 chairs per row. Since nobody else is in the building, only one other person was sitting amongst all the chairs. The agent who took my file, calls my name about 2 minutes later. I go to the window and am asked for for ID and passport book. He confirms if home address the same on the ID and then asks real basic questions 1.) asks who lives in my residence with me, 2.) confirms I still work at the place that is on the application, 3.) asks, have I been convicted of a felony or been in jail (type question). Then he says "don't read too much into this next question and it isn't meant to trick" (or be fearful, can't remember) 4.) Why do you want to apply for the Sentri card. After I answered the last question, he proceeded to explain that I have been approved and when I should expect the card in the mail and that I need to activate the card immediately once received. I asked if he needed the other documents, he said he did not as he had the info in his computer system. Nice! He told me to go to the cashier to pay the remaining balance, which I did and that was all there was. It was really fast and simple. I always imagined going into a cubicle or office for the interview and it being longer but that was all it was which was a nice surprise. I received an email the next day of confirmation of being fully approved and the need to activate the card. I hope this helps anyone interested.

12 comments

As for the “why” did you say “I’m going to Tijuana for lots of dental work and got tired of standing in line all the time”???
shailynn
3 months ago
Hey, not a bad one. Honestly as crazy as that sounds, to me as long as it isn't illegal, they shouldn't deny. I didn't lie but could word it like, why were you in TJ, "I came for a vacation". I'm my case, I was considering a new remote from home location for cheaper rent.
justinyoo
3 months ago
it was nice you only had to pay a small down payment before the interview. when I did the global entry i had to pay the $100 up front... just to apply.
Jascoi
3 months ago
Are you getting a Sentri card or Global Entry? Also, your post would be more readable if you used paragraphs.
PutaTester
3 months ago
Reason for applying for Sentri? "To visit the TJ clubs." We have clubs in SD. Why not stay here, instead of crossing international border? "Have you BEEN to the SD clubs, dude?" Oh, yeah...good point....approved on the basis on SD being horrible, and a man needs his arribas.
funonthaside
3 months ago
@Puta - I counted around 7-8 paragraphs. Yeah got Sentri card.
justinyoo
3 months ago
justinyoo, I think PutaTester was suggesting that you put spaces between your paragraphs. That certainly aids readability. I've crossed the border at PedEast many times, and when entering the U.S., I'm usually asked if I'm bringing anything back with me. My answer is always no, but based on where I've been and what I've been doing, my first thought is, "God, I hope not."
EastCoaster
3 months ago
Ah, makes sense about spaces between paragraphs.
justinyoo
3 months ago
> Most of the process was fast and easy except for getting the interview time. Just wanted to note my experience here. The closest office to me was booked for months out after I got my provisional approval. But, I re-checked the site every day for a about 3 days, and lo and behold, an appointment opened up that week. So it probably only took me like 4-6 weeks total to get the GE card, including the provisional clearance and the interview. TLDR: don't wait 6 months for GE, stalk CIS's website for appointments and one will likely open up sooner.
RonJax2
3 months ago
Also wanted to note, GE definitely came in handy. I crossed back yesterday via PedEast. Even though the line was not as long as PedWest, the normal line still wrapped up the staircase and was probably an hour long if not longer. With my GE card in hand, I walked right past the whole line and up to the gate where they asked if I had Sentri. I showed my GE card and they let me right through. Once I was inside the CBP facility they let me skip right in front of everyone else too. The only question they had was where I was headed, to which I responded "home". It probably only took me 10 total minutes to cross the border, and 80% of that was just walking across the long bridge to get to customs. Everyone else was stuck in a long line. I would highly recommend GE for anyone visiting TJ. It's worth it even if you're only going to visit once or twice, in my opinion.
RonJax2
3 months ago
Another perk of Global Energy is TSA pre check on all domestic flights inside the States, puts you in a separate and faster TSA lane. Saves lots of time and headaches, shoes stay on, etc.
math14
3 months ago
Global Entry is better than Sentri, since that includes quick entry to the USA thru ALL border crossing points, not just from Mexico. However, Nexus is even better since it includes All USA and all Canadian entry points in addition to all Mexican entry points, plus it is less expensive than GE or Sentri.
623
3 months ago
Login or Join to leave a comment.
Start a Discussion