Efrat Arbel

B.A (McGill); J.D. (UBC); LL.M, SJD (Harvard Law School), Member of the Bar of British Columbia

Personal profile


Efrat Arbel is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia Allard School of Law. Her research examines how legal rights are negotiated and defined in liminal legal spaces like the border, the detention center, and the prison. She has published widely in these fields.

Prior to joining the Allard School of Law, Dr. Arbel completed her masters studies and doctoral degree at Harvard Law School, where she was Canada Research Fellow with the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs and a researcher with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Law Clinic. She then held a postdoctoral appointment at the University of British Columbia, with visiting appointments at the Oxford Center for Criminology and the European University Institute.

Presently, Dr. Arbel is principal investigator on a SSHRC-funded study examining the lived experience of immigration detention in Canada. She is recipient of the 2022 Killam Accelerator Research Fellowship.

Dr. Arbel has served as an expert witness in Canadian judicial proceedings and prepared independent research reports for government agencies. She has also engaged in consultations with, among others, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), and United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Dr. Arbel has appeared before committees of the House of Commons and the Senate. She undertakes pro bono litigation within her field of research, most recently appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada as intervener co-counsel in Canadian Council for Refugees v Canada. Dr. Arbel serves as an advisor to the Multi-Agency Partnership BC Immigration Holding Center Support Program and conducts training for the Immigration and Refugee Board’s Gender Taskforce.

Dr. Arbel is a frequent media commentator and has been cited by numerous media outlets, including by The Globe and MailNational Post, and The New York Times. She is featured in the documentary film Finding Freedom: the Endless Pursuit of an Elusive Dream.

Dr. Arbel serves on the Executive Committee of UBC’s Centre for Migration Studies and is a member of the International Editorial Board of Oxford University’s Border Criminologies.


  • Law
  • Immigration Law
  • Jurisdiction
  • Constitutional Law
  • Public Law and Legal Theory
  • Torts