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Guide to Applying for an Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC)

Individuals who have been issued removal orders by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) might see their journey in Canada coming to an end. However, the Canadian government offers a glimmer of hope through the Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC), a document that enables those with removal orders to apply for re-entry into Canada under certain conditions. Understanding the ARC application process, prerequisites, and implications is essential for those seeking to enter Canada.


Understanding Removal Orders and the Need for an ARC

Canada issues three types of removal orders based on the severity of the case: departure orders, exclusion orders, and deportation orders. Each has distinct conditions for the individual’s departure and re-entry into Canada.

  • Departure Orders require the individual to leave Canada within 30 days and confirm their departure with the CBSA. Failure to comply transforms the departure order into a deportation order, significantly complicating re-entry.
  • Exclusion Orders prohibit re-entry for at least one year, extending to five years for cases involving misrepresentation.
  • Deportation Orders permanently bar individuals from returning unless they successfully apply for an ARC.


Applying for an ARC: The Preliminary Steps

Applicants must first assess their situation, acknowledging whether they are seeking temporary or permanent residence and whether they need a visa to enter Canada. Preparation involves gathering essential documents, including a detailed explanation letter (in English or French) justifying the request to return and evidence of the ARC processing fee payment ($459.55 CAD as of April 2024).


ARC Application Process

The ARC application process varies depending on the applicant’s desired status in Canada (temporary or permanent residence) and visa requirements.


Temporary Residence Applicants

For those requiring a visa, the ARC application should accompany the temporary residence application, including a complete application form, supporting documents, the explanation letter, and the required fees. Those exempt from visa requirements or needing an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) must apply online for temporary residence and submit ARC documents by mail upon eligibility confirmation.


Permanent Residence Applicants

Individuals applying for permanent residence must include the ARC application with their permanent residence application, ensuring all required documents are submitted together.


Post-Application: What to Expect

Following the application, IRCC may request an interview, additional documents, or issue a decision on the case. Applicants must be prepared for any outcome, as the issuance of an ARC is discretionary and based on the individual’s circumstances and Canada’s immigration policies.


The Cost of Returning: Fees and Removal Costs

Applicants must bear the cost of the ARC application fee and, if applicable, the repayment of removal costs to the CBSA. The removal costs vary depending on the destination at the time of deportation.


The Discretionary Nature of ARCs

It is important to note that ARCs are granted based on a comprehensive assessment of the applicant’s situation, including the reasons for the initial removal order, the applicant’s behaviour since the order, and their current circumstances. The discretionary nature of the ARC means that not all applications will be successful, underscoring the importance of a thorough and compelling application.


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