Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) is the only national, independent, voluntary organisation specialising in British immigration, nationality and asylum law.

It was founded in September 1967 following a meeting of representatives of over 100 ethnic minority and civil rights organisations in a Southall cinema. Vishnu Sharma, co-founder, served as the first General Secretary. He worked with JCWI for 10 years and remained closely associated with it until his death in 1992.

JCWI does not receive government funding and this helps to preserve its independence and the confidence of the communities it serves. JCWI undertakes casework and campaigning; intervenes when people are detained or imprisoned at points of entry into Britain; provides representation for clients at hearings of the Immigration Appeal tribunals; and offers advice to anyone with immigration problems. Involvement in mass lobbies and demonstrations defending the rights of immigrants is another facet of its work. JCWI monitors and scrutinises government practices and policies (especially those of the Home Office), campaigning for change where necessary.

The JCWI archive comprises three extensive deposits dating from 1967, the first of which is fully catalogued. There are Executive Committee minutes and reports, annual reports, files on conferences and public meetings, correspondence, files on other immigration pressure groups (including Action Group on Immigration and Nationality, Migrants Action Group, No Pass Laws Here!, Women, Immigration and Nationality Group and the Standing Conference on Refugees), policy papers and JCWI publications. However the extensive series of case files is the most important part of the archive, including cases of Cypriot students, cases of Ugandans and other East African Asians, cases of refusal of entry at ports and prison cases. Additional archives are received on a regular basis. [U DJC]