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You do not have to be a US citizen to access the US Courts. You could sue her in California Courts. But the problem is that California has only a two year statute of limitations on an oral agreement for debt (which would expire two years after she stopped paying you) or a four year statute of limitations for a written agreement on debt.
A statute of limitations bars actions from being brought. But in regard to debt if you can persuade her to make even a partial payment or make a new written acknowledgment of the debt than your ability to bring the action can be revived.
See this article:
The other challenge you have to overcome is that the amount involved exceeds the small claims limit. This means that you will need to sue in Superior Court. The Superior Court is more formal, and normally you would need a lawyer to bringthe action.
But California has some excellent self help materials, and an attorney is not mandatory. See here:
You can do a great deal by mail. But eventually you would need to come to the US.
The first step is a complaint. Here is a sample. It is form Massachusetts so it would nee to be edited for California, but the format and style are good:
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