Authorization to return to Canada

Last updated: 28 August 2020

When a foreign national is asked to leave Canada, very often in order to return legally they need to apply for an Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC). This is a formal way to ask the Canadian government for permission to re-enter the country, despite having previously been asked to leave.

Airport Check-in Counter, Airport Departure Area, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

In the majority of cases, an ARC is not a stand-alone application, meaning that the applicant cannot just submit an ARC application on its own. It is almost always associated with another application and will be processed and reviewed in the context of that application. The only situation in which this would not be the case is if the applicant did not need a visa to come to Canada, for example if he or she is a citizen of a visa-exempt country. In this scenario, an ARC application can be submitted on its own. But if the applicant requires a visa to visit, study, or work in Canada, he or she does not make a separate ARC application (he or she will only need to pay the associated fee of $400 CAD).

“Being asked to leave” can refer to a number of measures the Canadian government takes to ensure the departure of a particular foreign national. Depending on the measure taken, an ARC may or may not be required.

Departure order

Individuals who receive a departure order must leave Canada within 30 days and verify their departure with an immigration officer. If the individual complies with these conditions, then he or she most likely does not require an ARC. If the individual does not comply with the departure order, then the departure order becomes a deportation order (addressed below).

Exclusion order

Individuals who receive an exclusion order need to wait 12 months from when they leave and must have a certificate of departure that confirms this amount of time has passed before they may apply to re-enter Canada. If these conditions are satisfied, when the individual applies to re-enter Canada he or she most likely does not require an ARC. It is only if the individual seeks entry to Canada before the 12-month period has expired that an ARC would be needed.

Deportation order

Individuals who receive a deportation order (as well as individuals who were initially issued a departure order that became a deportation order) require an ARC to re-enter Canada legally.

None of the orders mentioned above are to be confused with a Direction to Leave Canada, for which an ARC is not required.

If you were deported because of criminal inadmissibility you (most likely) also have to apply for either Criminal Rehabilitation or a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) to enter Canada legally.

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