Our Mission

A staggering 89 million people worldwide have been displaced by violence or persecution. Immigration issues have roiled U.S. politics and upended the European Union. In these hot spots and beyond, policymakers have little trustworthy research to guide them, and public opinion is easily clouded by misinformation and partisanship. These challenges can seem insurmountable. But there’s no reason why immigration policy can’t benefit from the same kind of ingenuity that has brought us dramatic medical advances and game-changing technology—and it’s long overdue.

That’s where the Immigration Policy Lab comes in. With branches at Stanford University and ETH Zurich, we use large datasets, creative research designs, and cutting-edge analytical tools to bring new evidence to bear on the urgent problems practitioners face. By guiding the people who set public policy, as well as those who directly serve immigrant communities, our research can inspire solutions and ultimately improve countless lives.

Driving Policy Innovation

When helping our partners in government agencies and nonprofits better understand flaws in the status quo, we often are asked, “what’s next?” They need more than recommendations for small, incremental changes in the current way of operating. That’s why our work involves not just policy evaluation but also program design and experimentation.

Along the way, we’re discovering a way to increase the public impact of social science, reimagining its traditional research model to be more collaborative and responsive to real-world problems. We aim to make social science a catalyst for innovation, a force helping transform programs to meet 21st-century challenges.

When making immigration policy, people tend to rely on anecdotes and ideology rather than evidence. Our goal is to help them make informed decisions to improve immigrants’ lives and strengthen their communities.
Adam Lichtenheld Executive Director


Philanthropy is essential to our work. Gifts and grants make it possible for us to tackle ambitious projects, send research teams to new parts of the world, and deliver findings swiftly as political and humanitarian crises arise.

We are grateful for current and previous support from the following partners:


  • Carnegie Corporation of New York
  • Charles Koch Foundation
  • Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences
  • Dean of Research
  • Ford Foundation
  • Innovations for Poverty Action
  • J-PAL (European Social Inclusion Initiative)
  • New York Community Trust
  • Office of the President
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Robin Hood
  • Rockefeller Foundation
  • Russell Sage Foundation
  • Schmidt Futures
  • Stanford Impact Labs
  • Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence
  • Stanford King Center on Global Development
  • Office of the Vice Provost of Graduate Education

ETH Zurich

  • European Research Council (ERC)
  • Federal Chancellery (FCh)
  • Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA)
  • Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM)
  • Geneva Science-​Policy Interface (GSPI)
  • Innosuisse – Swiss Innovation Agency
  • Latsis Foundation
  • Leverhulme Trust
  • Mercator Foundation Switzerland
  • National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR)
  • Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)
  • Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS)
  • UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency
  • VW Foundation
  • Wellcome Trust