April 26, 2021 – Immigration

How the Immigration Policy Lab at Standford is Using Data to Help Immigrants Succeed


Throughout history, first-generation Americans have founded many notable companies — Pfizer, Colgate, and Kraft Foods, to name a handful. Not every immigrant will want to create a business, but how do we ensure that newcomers are empowered to use their skills to contribute within their new communities? Data and technology can help.

The Immigration Policy Lab at Stanford University uses large datasets and cutting-edge analytical tools to help immigrants succeed. In 2018, the Immigration Policy Lab launched GeoMatch, an algorithmic tool that can be used by refugee agencies and immigrants to discover communities in their new home country where they are most likely to find jobs fitting their knowledge and experience. The platform uses a migrant’s own information, along with historical immigration data, to make these predictions. Refugee resettlement agencies in the United States can use the tool’s recommendations to guide placement decisions for their clients about where to live.

The Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) provided seed funding for GeoMatch that helped the Immigration Policy Lab test the program in Europe. Results from that research indicated GeoMatch could help immigrants and refugees significantly improve their earnings. CKF support also allowed for outreach to other governments around the globe and helped set the foundation for pilot programs in North America.

CKF will provide an additional $1.7 million over the next three years to expand and test GeoMatch.

GeoMatch can benefit immigrants’ new home countries by raising the earning power of refugees and fostering better integration. Immigration Policy Lab modeling indicates that, in the United States, the average employment rate across several communities would have been 41 percent higher, rising from 34 to 48 percent, if refugees had been placed in GeoMatch-recommended resettlement locations.

“The Immigration Policy Lab uses data and technology to help migrants succeed,” said CKF Executive Director Ryan Stowers. “GeoMatch asks migrants about themselves — their skills, education, and hopes — and helps them find communities where they can flourish. We’re excited to continue our support of the Immigration Policy Lab and GeoMatch.”

The Charles Koch Foundation partners with social entrepreneurs to drive societal progress through academic research and innovations that help all learners realize their potential. Read more about the Foundation’s support for research on immigration.