New Report Examines Impact of AI Technologies on Immigrant and Refugee Workforce

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Upwardly Global warns the use of AI tools to screen resumes hurts new English speaking professionals, could cost U.S. economy up to $10 billion per year

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Upwardly Global, the national nonprofit working to dismantle employment barriers for immigrants, refugees, and asylees with international credentials, released a new report titled “AI For Impact: How to Thoughtfully Leverage Technology to Deliver on Mission.”

The report examines the impact of the adoption of AI technologies on immigrant, refugee, and asylee professionals seeking work in the United States, specifically by looking at the use of AI chatbots — like ChatGPT — as career navigation tools for immigrant job seekers.

There are currently more than 2.3 million work-authorized immigrants, refugees, and asylees with professional experience and international degrees unemployed or underemployed in the U.S. and more than 9.6 million professional jobs in the country going unfilled. 

Key facts identified in the report include: 

        • Over 50% of 1,000 major companies surveyed are primarily using AI chatbots — like ChatGPT — to screen resumes and potential employees (source).
        • Around 98% of essays written by non-English speakers, or new English speakers, were misidentified as being written by AI by the AI-powered career navigation tool Upwardly Global tested. In contrast, the same tool misidentified only 10% of essays written by native English speakers as being AI-generated (source).
        • Upwardly Global found that 35% of education credentials and 20% of work experience credentials from immigrant or refugee job applicants were misidentified by the AI career navigation tool.
        • College-educated immigrants employed in survival jobs not matched to their professional training or experiences missed out on more than $39 billion in wages, resulting in federal, state, and local governments losing out on more than $10 billion in unrealized tax receipts (source).

Upwardly Global’s report warns of “brain waste” — the nonrecognition of the skills and qualifications acquired by a refugee or immigrant professional outside of the U.S., which prevents them from finding skill-aligned work.

“The consequences of this mismatch have far-reaching implications for immigrants, refugees, and asylees seeking employment. They may invest their time in work or training programs that do not align with their education and experience, settling for lower-paying jobs that lead to financial hardship for their families,” explains Jina Krause-Vilmar, President and CEO of Upwardly Global.

“These outcomes are not only detrimental to immigrant communities, but a missed opportunity for the U.S. economy, which is facing down a historic labor shortage. If we could fill labor gaps with this untapped talent, we could alleviate the strain on the labor market, boost economic productivity, and ultimately promote greater prosperity.”

To combat “brain waste” caused by the adoption of AI to screen resumes, Upwardly Global recommends employers to: 

    1. Be user centric.
    2. Do not invest in AI for AI’s sake. Take time to understand what different AI technologies are capable of and invest in the areas where it can add value.
    3. Use your organizational experiences when raising questions about potential tools.
    4. Approach technology investments as partnerships that involve co-design and commitment to common outcomes rather than simple vendor/buyer relationships.


Upwardly Global has worked at the intersection of immigrant inclusion and workforce development for over two decades, supporting immigrant, refugee, and asylee professionals in rebuilding their lives and careers in the U.S. and unlocking their vital contributions to our workforce and economy. To date, they have supported nearly 10,000 newcomers in their transition from underemployment into quality jobs with an average starting salary of $65,000. Their efforts have added more than $50 million to local economies each year.

“Upwardly Global will strive to be a voice for immigrant inclusion in emerging new technologies and we will share our learnings with the industry so that we all rise together,” the report reads.


About Upwardly Global

Upwardly Global’s mission is to eliminate employment barriers for low-income immigrant, refugee, and asylee professionals and to advance their inclusion into the U.S. economy. Since 2000, Upwardly Global has empowered unemployed or underemployed newcomers with the skills, career coaching, and social capital needed to rebuild their lives and careers. Learn more at

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