Yea Ji Sea, 29, who has lived in the U.S. since she was a child, was so highly respected by her supervisors in the U.S. Army that one of them wrote she "volunteers for deployments willing to die for a country she loves... I would trust her with my life and (she) deserves citizenship more than most." But Sea, who served for more than four years in the Army and earned two medals, was notified of her honorable discharge as a result of the Trump administration terminating the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program that recruited foreign nationals with sought-after skills.

Sea applied for citizenship while in the military. After an initial application was denied, she was invited to reapply after demonstrating, for at least one year, "good moral character." Sea filed her second application but waited more than two years as the government took no action. She hadn't even been given an interview when she was discharged from the military, leaving her vulnerable to deportation.

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to force the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to issue a decision on her citizenship application. The lawsuit charges that the delay in the application decision is in violation of the landmark Administrative Procedure Act that requires the government to process applications "within a reasonable time."

Case Developments

VICTORY! August 27, 2018 The Department of Homeland Security confirmed that Specialist Sea received a citizenship interview on August 15, 2018 and her application was approved. They also confirmed that Specialist Sea was sworn in as a U.S. citizen on August 24, 2018 at an oath ceremony in Los Angeles. Read the government's response.

August 15, 2018
The Court ordered the Department of Homeland Security to make a final determination on her citizenship application within 3 weeks or provide an justification for why they need additional time. Read the Court's Order.

July 19, 2018
Memorandum of Law in Support of Specialist Yea Ji Sea's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order or a Preliminary Injunction to order the Department of Homeland Security to make a final determination on her citizenship application. Read the Memorandum of Law.

July 19, 2018
Complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Central District of CA.