A Glimpse at the Authorization to Return to Canada
This article will identify candidates for an ARC and explain the application process.
An Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC), stipulated in subsection 52 (1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), is an official document that allows a foreign national to enter Canada when they are barred from doing so.
Who Needs an ARC?
A subject who is issued a removal order is inadmissible to Canada and should thus be removed from Canada according to subsections 44 (1) and (2) and paragraph 45 (d) of IRPA. Both foreign nationals and permanent residents may be issued a removal order if they are found to be inadmissible.
Three types of removal orders are set out by s.223 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR): departure order, exclusion order, and deportation order. A removal order subject may need an ARC when they want to return to Canada, depending on the type of order and the subject’s compliance with it.
Normally, an individual issued a departure order will not need an ARC to return to Canada once the order is enforced, as per subsection 224 (1) of the IRPR. However, if the individual fails to leave Canada within 30 days and obtains a confirmation of departure in accordance with subsection 240 (1) to (3), the departure order will become a deportation order. In that case, the individual is permanently excluded from entering Canada unless they have obtained an ARC.
Subsections 225 (1) to (3) of IRPA require that an exclusion order subject be barred from Canada for either one year or five years after the order’s enforcement; the latter exclusion period applies to individuals found inadmissible on misrepresentation grounds. During the exclusion period, subjects seeking entry to Canada must obtain an ARC. However, one exception exists based on subsection 225 (4) of the IRPR: the making of the order against the foreign national is on the basis that he/she is an accompanying family member of a foreign national who is inadmissible on the grounds of security risk, human or international rights violations, or organized crime. Furthermore, the ARC requirement does not apply to exclusion order subjects seeking to return to Canada after their exclusion period.
On the other hand, deportation order subjects certainly need an ARC to return to Canada, pursuant to subsection 226 (1) of the IRPR. Since the departure order will automatically become a deportation order when its subject fails to have it enforced, as per s.240 of the IRPR, many foreign nationals who are subject to a departure order are confused when applying for an admission document of Canada. Then how to apply for an ARC?
How to Apply for an ARC
As mentioned in the previous section, foreign nationals who are subjects to an exclusion order, during their exclusion period, or to a deportation order, must obtain an ARC to enter Canada. Foreign nationals subject to a departure order need an ARC only if they fail to leave Canada within 30 days after their order has come into force, which will render them deportees.
The ARC application process depends on whether the applicant is from a visa-exempt country or visa-required country. For the former, applicants must submit the ARC application to the responsible visa office in the relevant region by mail. For the latter, applicants should apply for an ARC together with a temporary residency application, e.g. an application for a temporary resident visa (TRV), study permit, or work permit. Following the approval of the temporary resident application, the ARC application will be assessed based on the applicant’s situation and the purpose of temporary residency.
When applying for an ARC, an applicant must explain in detail why they should be allowed to enter Canada. Their application will be assessed according to their past inadmissibility and current situation. For example, say a foreign worker, who had overstayed and was issued an exclusion order, is unemployed, with neither a place to live nor a penny to his name. He wants to apply for a TRV to visit his friends in Canada for a short time before his exclusion period has elapsed. His chances of obtaining an ARC are slim, as his current situation would hardly convince an officer that he would honour the conditions for temporary residents, one of which is to leave Canada by the end of the authorized stay.
The processing fee for an ARC is $400 CAD and is non-refundable. In addition, if a foreign national has been removed from Canada at the expense of the Government of Canada and that expense has not been recovered, the foreign national must pay for it before an ARC can be issued. The cost is fixed by paragraphs 243 (a) and (b) of the IRPR: $750 for removal to the U.S. or St. Pierre and Miquelon, and $1500 to countries other than those two.
The preceding introduction to the ARC should neither be considered a legal opinion nor legal advice. Furthermore, an ARC is different from the Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) prescribed in subsection 24 (1) of IRPA; the latter is another type of official admission document issued to foreign nationals deemed inadmissible or ineligible by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Both an ARC and a TRP may be necessary for removal order subjects seeking admission to Canada, depending on the grounds for inadmissibility. Without sound Canadian immigration knowledge, however, a do-it-yourself approach to obtaining either is not recommended. Before applying for an ARC, an applicant should consult the “Authorization to return to Canada” section of the IRCC website for up-to-date information, or seek the help of an authorized representative.