top of page

Our Story

Over a decade of pro bono immigration legal services

Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel strives to provide reliable and responsible legal advice, services, and information to Disciples immigrants, congregations, and communities throughout the United States.  We do this through diligent and zealous full representation of Disciples pastors and seminarians, advice only consultations and referrals to all members, and timely legal updates and self-help legal materials.

In July 2017, the General Board passed General Assembly Resolution 1723, “On Becoming Immigrant Welcoming Congregations.”  Specifically, the resolution culminated in this call:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that churches of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada seek to:

  1. build solidarity between immigrant and non-immigrant congregations;

  2. consider becoming or assisting congregations offering sanctuary protections to immigrants;

  3. develop community protection and response models for families facing separation due to detention or deportation;

  4. educate themselves and others about those immigration policies that support the rights of immigrant families;

  5. offer support for current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, border communities, and victims of hate crimes, fraudulent activity, and sex trafficking; and

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that congregations, ministries, organizations, and institutions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will continue to strive to respect and affirm the dignity of every child of God and to advocate for the fair and just treatment of immigrants and immigrant families in the United States and Canada.

Since 2011, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has put these words into action by hosting a Bilingual Immigration Attorney to provide pro bono legal services to Disciples pastors, seminarians, congregations, and members at large.  From 2011-2020, Tana Liu-Beers served as the first staff attorney and truly created and developed this ministry.  In the first week of the Covid-19 global pandemic in 2020, Natalie Teague gratefully accepted the call and continues Tana’s legacy of diligence and dedication.  Natalie continues joyfully as Immigration Legal Counsel: working remotely with clients throughout the United States and all over the world from Central North Carolina.

Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel is deployed remotely within Disciples Home Missions.  Our work is possible through the funding by several General Ministries, Racial/Ethnic Ministries, Regions, and your Week of Compassion offerings.  We are grateful for any and all gifts to enable us to continue to provide exceptional pro bono legal services to Disciples throughout the United States and beyond.  Thank you in advance!

Jonelle Ocloo's Headshot

Who We Are

Jonelle Ocloo, Esq.

Jonelle Ocloo is an experienced attorney who concentrates her practice in all areas of immigration law.  She is a member of the Maryland State Bar and the District of Columbia Bar, and Chair of the Immigration Law Section of the Maryland State Bar Association.

Ms. Ocloo represents individuals and corporate clients in all immigration matters. She frequently speaks at national seminars on immigration law and guest lectures at law schools. She also performs regular community service work. Prior to opening her own law practice, Ms. Ocloo was an associate at the Murthy Law Firm (one of the nation’s largest immigration boutique law firms), where she was Supervising Attorney of the Green Card Department.  Before joining Murthy Law Firm, Ms. Ocloo worked at Just Law International P.C. in Virginia, where her practice focused on immigration law.

Jonelle Ocloo is a graduate of Yale Law School.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude from the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Awards and Honors:

  • Selected to Super Lawyers (2021-2022)

  • International Who’s Who of Corporate Immigration Lawyers (2016 and 2017)

  • Maryland State Bar Association: Presidential Best Section Award (2015)

  • American Immigration Lawyers Association: Outstanding chairperson award for organizing pro bono citizenship clinics in MD, DC, and VA (2012 and 2013)

  • Maryland’s Top 100 Women (2012)

  • Associated Black Charities’ Emerging Leader Award (2012)

  • Leading Women Award by the Daily Record honoring women 40 years of age or younger on the tremendous accomplishments made so far in their careers (2011


Professional Appointments:

  • Admitted to practice law in Maryland and District of Columbia

  • Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA).

    • Chair, Immigration Law Section (2014 – 2015)

  • American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)

  • Attorney Liaison to the USCIS Baltimore District Office (2013 – present)

  • Vice Chair, AILA National Practice Management Committee (2013 – 2017)



  • “What Will Happen to Your Law Practice if Something Happens to You? Contingency Planning for Solos”, AILA Insight, December 2016“.

  • Financial Management: Stay Out of the Red and In the Black”, co-authored with Kirby Gamblin Joseph, AILA, December 2014“.

  • Marketing Your Immigration Practice by Following the Headlines”, AILA, January 2014.“Opening a New Practice: What I Wish I Knew When I Started”, co-authored with Becki Young, 2014 AILA Immigration Practice Pointers

  • “Building Referral Networks: How to Use Your Current Contacts to Build Your Practice”, co-authored with Bernadette Ginger McGuire and Douglas R. Penn


Recent Presentations, Lectures, and Seminars:

    • Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA)

      • Presenter on Employment-based Immigration at MSBA Legal Excellence Week (2021)
        Faculty Member, Immigration Spring Conference (2019, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013)

      • “Complex H1Bs –Anticipate the RFE, Don’t Get Burned” (2019)“

      • Navigating Immigration Practice in the Trump Era” (2017)“

      • New Immigration Regulations on High-Skilled Immigrants” (2016)“

      • The President’s Executive Actions on Immigration” (2015)

      • “I-601 Provisional Waivers” (2013)

    • Annual Conference Speaker (2020, 2018, 2014)

      • “Immigration Consequences in Mergers and Acquisitions” (2020)“

      • Advising Clients on Immigration Compliance in the Era of Worksite Enforcement” (2018)

    • American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)

      • “Does Anyone Still Work at the Office Anymore? Filing PERM Labor Certifications for a Mobile Workforce” (2018)“

      • PERM and the Off-site Worker – 2016 Update,”

      • AILA Web Seminar (2016)Annual Conference Speaker (2014)“Family-Based Consular Processing,” AILA Web Seminar (2013)

      • “PERM and the Off-site Worker” AILA Web Seminar (2013)

      • “Strategic Issues Relating to K-1 Fiancé Visas,” AILA Web Seminar (2012)

      • Faculty Member at Fall Regional Conference for DC, MD, and VA (2015, 2012, 2011, 2010)

      • Presentation on PERM Labor Certification Presentation on Child Status Protection Act Presentation on INA Section 245(i)Presentation on Advanced Issues of Adjustment of Status

    • The Bar Association of DC

      • “Pivoting your Immigration Practice in the New Normal.” (2021)“A Day in the Life of an Immigration Lawyer” (2020, 2019)

    • Bar Association of Montgomery County

      • “The President’s Executive Actions on Immigration”

      • University of Maryland, Carey School of Law

      • Guest Lecturer on Employment-based Immigration

      • University of Baltimore School of Law

      • Guest Lecturer on Employment-based Immigration


Community Involvement:

    • Howard County Higher Business Accelerator for Women or Minority-Owned Small Business Enterprises (2021)

    • Board of Directors, Luminus Network for New Americans (formerly FIRN), assisting immigrants in Howard County, Maryland (2016 – present)

    • Leadership Howard County premier class of 2016Recognized by the County Executive of Montgomery County, Maryland for pro bono service to the immigrant community (2017)

What We Do

There are three key parts to our work:

Full Legal Representation of Disciples Pastors, Seminarians, & Congregations

First, Immigration Legal Counsel provides full representation for Disciples pastors and seminarians throughout the United State.  This means that we advise, prepare for, and file petitions and applications with USCIS and other immigration agencies.  Most of this work is employment based only, but it may include family based, citizenship, and humanitarian cases on a case-by-case basis and as capacity allows.  Cases begin with a consultation appointment to determine the issues, check for any conflicts of interest, and to assess whether there is capacity to assist.  After a case is accepted, when we have both signed a representation agreement, there are no legal fees.  (A congregation and/or client are still responsible for paying government filing fees.)  We walk together, through the dark and deep forest of the U.S. immigration system, until we reach a conclusion.

Image by Wesley Tingey

Limited Advice-only Legal Consultations by Phone or Video Conference

Second, Immigration Legal Counsel provides pro bono (free), advice-only consultations for members of Disciples congregations.  (Unfortunately, I am currently only able to provide U.S. based immigration legal services because I am only licensed in North Carolina, and my practice is limited to immigration and nationality law within the United States.)  The best way to schedule a consultation appointment is to submit the contact form or to send an email so that we can respond directly with a link to a confidential online questionnaire.  We will look for a good time when we can sit together and have plenty of time to discuss your matter in detail and without interruption.  A consultation could include issue spotting for potential immigration options, answering some brief questions, or providing information and/or a referral to qualified and responsible local counsel. 


Legal Updates & Pro Se (Self-Help) Materials

Finally, Immigration Legal Counsel provides legal updates and self-help (pro se) materials on the U.S. immigration system.  These resources are generally available on the Legal Updates section of the website, which is like a blog, and on social media platforms.  Sometimes webinars and/or videos are also available, so please check the resources section as well.  Kindly note that the U.S. immigration system and its policies change constantly, so all materials are dated and effective only as of their publication date unless otherwise notated.

Image by Chris Montgomery
Image by Clay Banks

How We Work

The Immigration Legal Counsel position is remote and virtual, meaning that I often work irregular schedules and hours to accommodate clients across different time zones.  If you call, text, or send a message, please know that I will be back in touch just as soon as possible (usually within one business day).

The legal profession is a self-governing profession, and all attorneys are bound by the ethics rules for each state in which they are licensed.  I am a Maryland licensed attorney, which means that I am bound by the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct.  Any issue that comes up with my work must comport with these rules, which may lead to lengthy disclaimers and other limitations that a non-attorney might not consider.  I take these rules, and my responsibilities under them, very seriously, so I appreciate your understanding of how and when these limitations may arise.


For example, ethically I cannot advise a potential client if they are currently represented by another immigration attorney. (Sometimes there are exceptions, such as when one is seeking a second opinion and expresses that explicitly in any inquiry.)


Additionally, I cannot advise or represent anyone on legal matters that fall outside of immigration law and which are generally governed by state law or outside of my practice area.  For example, I am unable to give advice on tax issues, employment law, family law, etc.  Immigration is all federal law based, which is an exception to the rule that an attorney must be licensed in each state in which they practice.


Finally, as much as I wish I had the capacity to assist with immigration court cases, such representation would be impractical as these cases often move in accordance with local practice and “knowing one’s judge” becomes an imperative, not a luxury.  With this said, I do my best to assist with detention and bond issues, as practical through an initial consultation, but ultimately these cases must be referred to a local attorney.  This referral is important as the applicable case law differs between the eleven different federal circuit courts of appeals depending on where one lives. 

Image by Andrew Stutesman

Where We Work

Though Disciples Home Missions is based in Indianapolis, Indiana, I am based in Maryland.  In meeting with clients, there are options to meet by phone or encrypted video conference.  If we meet online, please be sure that you have strong and steady internet as well as a private place to meet without others hearing our conversation.  I recommend using headphones to increase privacy and to avoid unknowingly waiving confidentiality or attorney-client privilege.

If you have an upcoming event for the Disciples community and would like for me to speak or participate, please contact me

Image by Tyler Nix

Why We Do the Work

In 2017, the General Assembly passed a resolution on “Becoming Immigrant Welcoming Congregations.”  Additionally, there are many faith-based reasons behind this work.          

As one of the four priorities of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is to become an anti-racist, pro-reconciliation church, direct immigration services help to achieve greater diversity in current and new Disciples churches and communities.  As race has long played a historical role in U.S. immigration policy, this ministry also allows the church to learn, reflect, and contemplate how race and immigration intersect and interact in the United States, communities, and congregations.

Ultimately, Immigration Legal Counsel brings people together!  It may be to facilitate the call for a pastor, to unite (or reunite) families, to create a new citizen, or to seek humanitarian relief.  Regardless of the case, our work aims to transform the fear, anxiety, and frustration with the immigration system into the joy, connection, and community of human beings who can be together -- no matter their immigration status.

Interested in learning more?

bottom of page