Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced the move on Thursday morning.
He said while the Canadian government remains focused on continuing to push Iran for a transparent investigation into the downing of Flight 752 last year, the families of the victims who had ties to Canada need more support — but said it was too early to tell how many would be accepted.
“At the centre of this national tragedy are the surviving families of the victims … the grief and anguish is real and ongoing,” Mendicino said.
“We believe that by introducing this public policy that we are demonstrating solidarity with the victims as they search for justice, and we are also demonstrating compassion.”
More than 100 of the 176 people who died when Iran shot down Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 in January 2020 had ties to Canada, and 55 were Canadian citizens.
Eighteen Canadians died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed a total of 157 people in March 2019.
Mendicino said the change is effective as of May 12 and will remain open until May 11, 2022.
Applicants must be a relative of a victim who was either a citizen, a permanent residence, or a foreign national with a positive eligibility decision on their permanent residence application at the time of the crash.
Mendicino said eligible relatives include spouses, common-law partners, children, grandchildren, mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, nieces, nephews, uncles and aunts of the victims.
Applicants must be in Canada when they apply.
The Iranian government initially denied firing the missiles that downed the passenger aircraft in January 2020 but admitted to doing so within days. The regime has since charged 10 in connection with the downing of the aircraft but on Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said that wasn’t enough.
“What they’re doing is laying the blame on some low-level people,” Garneau told the House of Commons transport committee studying the handling of the disaster.
He said the report by independent investigators into the incident is expected “in the coming weeks.”
Garneau also added that negotiations with Iran on reparations for the victims’ families has now begun.