The Scottish Refugee Council has called for a change in the rules to allow asylum seekers to work while their UK status is considered.
It comes after a survey suggested asylum seekers in Scotland were struggling with poverty, even when they were granted leave to remain in the UK.
Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University said the issue affected even highly-skilled refugees.
They found a refugee's route out of poverty was narrower than for others.
By changing the law, the council said it would allow refugees to maintain their skills.
The study, which focused on 12 refugees in Glasgow, revealed most struggled to find work even after being granted permission to stay in Scotland.
They were found to be living on low incomes, partly as a result of sending money to their family back in their country of origin.
Country of origin
The report's author, Kate Lindsay, said: "Refugees are not passive recipients of what they are offered by society, but are resourceful and creative in seeking solutions to the barriers they face.
"However, the routes that refugees have to get out of poverty appear to be narrower than they are for others."
The report, Refugees' Experiences and Views of Poverty in Scotland, indicated that many sent money to support family in their country of origin despite having little income of their own.
Gareth Mulvey, research coordinator at the Scottish Refugee Council, said: "We are becoming more aware of the hardships people face as they go through the asylum system in the UK.
"This report shows that the journey doesn't end once someone receives refugee status."
The research paper was written by Kate Lindsay, Morag Gillespie and Louise Dobbie from the Scottish Poverty Information Unit and will be discussed at a seminar in Glasgow later.