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The 22-year-old Argentine recently dropped more than $5,000 on food, hotels and clothes in Las Vegas during a trip that also took her to Seattle’s Space Needle, Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo. But she doubts she will return soon.

"It is a little bit of a headache," said Ocampo, a student who waited months to find out whether her tourist visa application would be approved.

More than a decade after the federal government strengthened travel requirements after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, foreign visitors say getting a temporary visa remains a daunting and sometimes insurmountable hurdle.

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