Records of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

Scope and Content

The arrangement of the records is artificial, beginning with the corporate records outlining the organisation's function, followed by documents relating to its activities and its publications.

The first deposit of records is dominated by case papers. These have been catalogued broadly as general cases, appeal cases, prison cases, Cypriot students' cases, East African Asian cases, entry certificate cases, political asylum cases, refusal at ports cases, welfare cases and other cases. This is not a strict classification and the order of the general, appeal and prison cases follows the exact structure composed by JCWI. However within the broad term 'general cases' can be found papers relating to East Africa, to political asylum, to port cases and so on. To aid retrieval the general and appeal cases, which did not have a unique reference number allocated in their creation, have been collected into artificial files firstly in alphabetical order and then by individual year. Each prison case has a unique reference number so every individual file has been listed at that level. The information contained within these case files is of a particularly sensitive nature and will remain closed for fifty years from their date of creation.

The collection contains a small amount of information on the workings of JCWI. There are nine files documenting the activities of the Executive Committee from 1967 to 1979 at U DJC/1. Minutes of Annual General Meetings date from 1968 to 1987 and can be found at U DJC/2. There are a complete set of Annual Reports from 1968 to 1992 and four from the West Midlands advisory branch of JCWI for 1988 to 1991. Financial records of the organisation are limited to six files containing an assortment of material dating from 1968 to 1989 [U DJC/5]. Administrative records are also patchy but do include important information from the first meeting of September 1967 and the events which led up to it [U DJC/6]. There is a file concerning the appointment of the first full time case worker at London Airport and fifteen years later one file documents proposals to install an emergency telephone helpline at the airport [U DJC/6/13, 14]. This section also contains a number of files resulting from JCWI's visits to the Indian Sub-continent and its attempts to set up offices in the areas experiencing the worst problems administrating the immigration rules.

JCWI's activities in training welfare advisors working in all parts of Great Britain can be found at U DJC/7. They have held a number of courses over the past thirty years aiming to keep abreast of changes in immigration law and procedure. This section also contains a number of files of invitations for JCWI members to attend gatherings and to address interested groups.

JCWI's involvement with other groups on specific campaigns is documented with a number of files relating to the Action Group on Immigration and Nationality (AGIN), Migrants Action Group, No Pass Laws Here! Group and the Women, Immigration and Nationality Group (WING). This material dates from the late 1970s to the early 1990s and contains correspondence, minutes and campaign publications [U DJC/20, 22, 23, 24]. The only specific JCWI campaign documented within this collection is the Campaign for child tax allowances / child benefits for immigrant parents with children overseas. This comprises seven files of correspondence, minutes, reports and publications [U DJC/21]. There are twenty two files relating to other immigrant and immigration groups in Great Britain. These are predominantly artificial files collecting together items from each group in alphabetical order. The notable exception to this are nine files on the Standing Conference on Refugees from the 1970s [U DJC/25]. Twenty seven files catalogued at U DJC/26 contain documents relating to the Government, including individual departments, and specific pieces of immigration legislation covering the whole span of JCWI's existence. Forty three subject files comprise similar material relating to various topics including demonstrations, general immigration material, National Health Service charges, immigration service raids, and overseas students.

This deposit contains a collection of JCWI's publications. The first edition of The Immigrant from December 1968 can be found at U DJC/28/1. Unfortunately the second edition is missing but three, four and five are present. There are six editions of Immigrant Voice dating from 1976 to 1979, including two special issues. An almost complete set of JCWI Bulletin spans 1982 to 1993. The collection also contains five editions of the West Midlands' branch bulletin, Immigration Bulletin, from 1987 to 1990. Sixteen pamphlets cover a diverse range of topics dating from 1974 to 1993. These include copies of reports that JCWI presented to government bodies, those produced to highlight particular areas of concern and including the pamphlet which accompanied the memorial service following the death of Vishnu Sharma in 1992 [U DJC/29/15]. An array of JCWI leaflets can be found at U DJC/30. These cover a variety of areas of immigration law and are aimed at would-be immigrants and those already resident in the UK but who would be affected by the changes in nationality law introduced during the 1980s. Twenty two artificial files given the title 'JCWI miscellaneous information literature' can be found at U DJC/31 covering the period 1967 to 1993. These are mainly typescript documents that were possibly used as internal guidelines and advice notes. Other publications include books published by JCWI in the 1990s and a volume compiled on JCWI's twentieth anniversary in 1987 [U DJC/32].

The second and subsequent deposits are not yet fully catalogued.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) was officially founded on 23 September 1967 at the Dominion Cinema, Southall, Middlesex. 240 people represented a variety of immigrant groups in the UK. The organisation is unique in that it is entirely privately funded and run by its member groups. The first General Secretary was Vishnu Sharma. Initial concerns centred around the implications of the 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act which only granted entry vouchers to those with certain skills or near relatives already resident in the UK. Consequently JCWI's focus began at London Airport, handling cases where family relationships where challenged and where immigration officers became suspicious of visitors' intentions. JCWI's first full time worker, Baldev Singh, was based at an office in Heathrow airport. The passing of the 1968 Commonwealth Immigration Act imposed the issue of entry clearance certificates on would-be immigrants. This changed the sphere of JCWI's work. Visits were made to the Indian Sub-continent to view the operation of entry clearance allocation, and the findings were then used to petition the government. JCWI began receiving post from many locations requesting assistance in gaining entry to the UK. As a result JCWI's office moved to London.

JCWI's casework increased during the East African crises of the early 1970s. Many Asian British passport holders turned to JCWI for guidance when they were expelled from their country of residence but due to the length of queue for a quota voucher to gain entrance to the UK were unable to pass UK Immigration Control. This resulted in cases becoming known as 'shuttlecocks' which JCWI took to the European Court of Human Rights and won.

Further restrictions on immigration including strict checks on children's age and extra rigorous checks on marriages, filtered into British legislation in the 1970s and 1980s. JCWI's role increasingly became an advisory one to those immigrants resident in the UK who sought to gain entry for the rest of their family. The Immigration Act of 1971 allowed for the detention of would-be illegal immigrants so JCWI began taking on such cases and fighting deportation orders. JCWI's casework has also included aiding those seeking political asylum, and overseas students facing financial hardship due to uncertain circumstances in their home country, for example Cypriot students in 1975. Work has also included aiding refugees.

By the early 1970s JCWI's work had also begun to include supporting the position of black Commonwealth immigrants resident in the UK. JCWI has campaigned against changes to child benefit legislation penalising those workers whose children are not resident in the UK. Any attempts to impose changes to welfare benefits and rights to health care which would adversely affect the black population have been challenged. JCWI campaigned strongly against the 1981 Immigration Act which effectively made Asian and Chinese people second class citizens. The right to nationality by birth also disappeared. JCWI won some concessions but the main force of the legislation remained intact. JCWI's campaigning work has included producing pamphlets and leaflets. It has also produced briefing papers for Members of Parliament and contributed reports to the Government of the day as part of the consultation process surrounding new legislation. It has been involved in mass lobbies and demonstrations defending the rights of immigrants.

JCWI has worked with other organisations on specific campaigns. Rules which resulted in many married couples being kept apart resulted in the Immigration Widows and Divided Families Campaigns. Following passport raids in 1973 which particularly affected migrant workers, JCWI supported a campaign co-ordinated by the Migrants Action Group. JCWI helped to found the No Pass Laws Here! Group following the legislation which created two classes of citizens. At the same time the Action Group on Immigration and Nationality was also formed, bringing together organisations such as the National Council for Civil Liberties, National Association of Community Relations Councils and British Churches in opposition to the act.


U DJC/1 Executive Committee, 1967 - 1987

U DJC/2 Other committees, 1969 - 1987

U DJC/3 Annual general meetings, 1968 - 1987

U DJC/4 Annual reports, 1968 - 1992

U DJC/5 Financial records, 1968 - 1989

U DJC/6 Administrative records, 1965 - 1991

U DJC/7 Conferences / courses / meetings / speakers, 1968 - 1988

U DJC/8 General correspondence, 1966 - 1989

U DJC/9 Case record sheets, 1975 - 1987

U DJC/10 Cypriot students cases, 1975

U DJC/11 East African Asian cases, 1945 - 1986

U DJC/12 Entry certificate cases, 1967 - 1975

U DJC/13 General immigration cases, 1947 - 199

U DJC/14 Immigration appeal cases, 1967 - 1985

U DJC/15 Political asylum cases, 1960 - 1978

U DJC/16 Port cases, refusal of entry, 1973 - 1985

U DJC/17 Prison cases, 1956 - 1992

U DJC/18 Welfare cases, 1966 - 1979

U DJC/19 Other cases, 1938 - 1982

U DJC/20 Action Group on Immigration and Nationality (AGIN), 1976 - 1989

U DJC/21 Campaign for child tax allowances, 1976 - 1980

U DJC/22 Migrants Action Group, 1977 - 1989

U DJC/23 No Pass Laws Here! Group, 1981 - 1987

U DJC/24 Women, Immigration and Nationality Group (WING), 1979 - 1994

U DJC/25 Other organisations, 1965 - 1992

U DJC/26 Government and legislation, 1959 - 1990

U DJC/27 Subject files, 1960 - 1990

U DJC/28 Periodicals, 1968 - 1993

U DJC/29 Pamphlets, 1974 - 1993

U DJC/30 Leaflets, 1969 - 1993

U DJC/31 JCWI miscellaneous information literature, 1967 - 1993

U DJC/32 Other publications, 1968 - 1993

Access Information

Some of the records in this collection contain sensitive personal information. In accordance with data protection legislation, records containing sensitive personal information are not available for public inspection for 75 years if the information relates to adults, or 100 years if the information relates to children. In some circumstances access may be granted for research purposes. To request access or for further information please contact

The second and subsequent deposits are not yet fully catalogued. In some cases a draft or box list may exist which may allow us to provide access to the collection ahead of the material being catalogued. If you are interested in this collection please contact clearly outlining your interest and timescales.

Other Finding Aids

Entry in Pressure group archives subject guide

Conditions Governing Use


Custodial History

Deposited by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) in 1993 with further deposits in 1995, 1997, 2010 and 2012

Related Material

Archives of Liberty (National Council for Civil Liberties) [U DCL]