Aliens Act

11 Aug 1905

The 1905 Aliens Act declared that 'undesirable immigrants' would be denied entry to Britain. Although it was vaguely worded, the restrictions were mostly levied against Jewish and Eastern European immigrants.

The 1905 Aliens Act did not discriminate against immigrants from the Indian subcontinent, who as subjects of the British Empire were granted free movement at this time. However, earlier Navigation and Merchant Shipping Acts had discriminated against seafarers from the Indian subcontinent. It was after the First World War that amendments to immigration rules and restrictions on 'coloured seamen' came to discriminate against South Asian migrants more formally (e.g. the Special Restriction (Coloured Alien Seamen Order)).

Secondary works: 

Karatani, Rieko, Defining British Citizenship: Empire, Commonwealth and Modern Britain (London: Frank Cass, 2003)

Shah, Prakash A., Refugees, Race, and the Legal Concept of Asylum in Britain (London: Cavendish, 2000)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto Press, 2002)

Archive source: 

National Archives, Kew