It is not uncommon for people who have overstayed in Canada, then left Canada to later decide to return. Many people worry that it will not be possible to do so. However, regardless of whether one previously overstayed but left Canada before Canadian immigration authorities discovered the overstay, or even if one was ordered to leave Canada, it is certainly possible and common that a Canadian visa office abroad will approve a visa to allow that person to return to Canada, despite the previous non-compliance.
The following is a reference letter that an applicant used in the case AlOmari v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration). It is as a good example of the level of detail that should go into such a letter, and can serve as a useful reference for others.
Excerpt from the Alomari vs Canada court case:
In November 2015, I made the mistake of not renewing my study permit because I was not able to complete my flight training during the unstable weather conditions of the fall and winter seasons. This bad decision and judgment call is what led me to overstaying.
I could not leave until July 11, 2016 because I was required to remain with my wife and sisters who were actively studying. As outlined in the translated Saudi government scholarship rules, female students are required to travel and live with a male relative, such as a father, husband or brother. Leaving my wife and sisters would have led to them losing their scholarships, and ability to study.
I should have sought the assistance of a lawyer to discuss how I could extend my stay in Vancouver, even though I could not complete my flight training during the fall and winter seasons. My current lawyer informed me that I could have extended my stay in Canada as a visitor until I was ready to get back to my studies. I wish I knew that because it would have saved me and my family a lot of time, stress and grief over the past four months.
My wife and sisters were expecting to return to their studies in September 2016. However, the denial of my study permit and visa application has put their plans and dreams of completing their education in Canada at risk. They were unable to contact their schools in Vancouver, and postpone their classes until January 2017.
As you may know, I have been living and studying in Canada since April 2008, and this was the first time I failed to renew my status. This experience has taught me an unforgettable lesson, because my mistake has impacted the ability of my determined, ambitious, and hardworking wife and sisters to complete their English studies and to obtain undergraduate degrees from Canada.
I know clearly understand the rules for visitors in Canada, and the consequences of not following the rules. I understand that I must renew my status before it expires, and that overstaying could lead to the denial of future applications and it could lead to me being deported from Canada and to the denial of future applications and it could lead to me being deported from Canada and denied entry for a year. I have no intention of overstaying ever again, and I commit to returning to Saudi Arabia with my family at the end of our stay in Canada.
I also understand that I cannot study or work in Canada without the proper authorization and permits. I will not return to my flight training until I apply for and receive a study permit to do so. My plan is to take care of my children while my wife is studying, and to apply for a study permit around spring time. I am applying for a visitor visa at the moment because it takes less time to process than a study permit, and my wife and sisters are anxious to return to their studies in January 2017.
I apologize sincerely for my mistake, and I hope that you forgive me. My wife, sisters and I are praying to return to Vancouver together at the end of this month. We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible, and I am available to answer any questions you might have.