From time to time, individuals who have previously been asked to leave Canada may seek to re-enter the country legally. Depending on the circumstances, they may need to apply for an Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC). This is a formal way of requesting permission to enter Canada in spite of a prior request to leave.
In general, the ARC is applied for and processed in conjunction with another application, such as a visitor visa or work permit. The only situation in which the ARC is a standalone application is if the applicant is a citizen of a visa-exempt country
Many people believe that once someone is asked to leave Canada, they will never be allowed to return. But this depends not only on the circumstances of the individual’s departure, but on their compliance with the request to leave.
If you receive a departure order, you are required to leave Canada within 30 days and verify your departure with an immigration official. If these conditions are met, you are not likely to need an ARC for re-entry. However, if you left Canada more than 30 days after the order was issued, or if you failed to properly verify your departure, your departure order becomes a deportation order.
If you receive an exclusion order, you are excluded from returning to Canada for 12 months after your departure. If you provide a certificate of departure that confirms that 12 months have passed since you left, you are not likely to need an ARC. In certain circumstances, individuals you received an exclusion order may have a reason to return prior to the expiry of the 12-month period. In these cases, an ARC would be needed.
If you receive a deportation order, or if you received a departure order that became a deportation order as a result of non-compliance, you will need an ARC to re-enter Canada at any point in the future. If you were deported because of criminal inadmissibility, you may also need to apply for criminal rehabilitation or a temporary resident permit.
Note: none of the above are to be equated with a Direction to Leave Canada, for which an ARC is not needed.