EU citizens still welcome after Brexit

The United Kingdoms departure from the EU means an end to freedom of movement between the two, but the British government still wants EU citizens to know they are very welcome to come to Britain to visit, work and study.

On Wednesday we set out what the new skills-based immigration system will mean for Europeans coming to the U.K.

The U.K. may be leaving the EU, but we are determined that our shared values and enduring friendships with Europe will continue long into the future.

Our shared history and commitment to democracy, prosperity and security will mean we continue to influence each other after Brexit.

EU citizens have made magnificent contributions to our economy and society, just as British people have done in countries across Europe.

We are not just reassessing the shape of our immigration system, we are also taking steps to modernize the processes that support it.

One of the top priorities for the government has been securing their rights, regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, and we have been clear that we will protect their rights, deal or no deal.

The EU Settlement Scheme, which opens next year, will be simple to use and allow more than 3 million people who have made Britain their home to stay here.

We have successfully processed thousands of applications through the pilot of the scheme, it is already working well and the feedback from those using it is positive.

We welcome the Commissions announcement this week that member states should ensure that U.K. citizens legally residing in the EU on the date of withdrawal continue to be considered legal residents.

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

However, once we leave the EU our relationship will change.

Our new single skills-based immigration system will enable EU workers to come to the U.K. when they are sponsored by companies operating here.

There will be no limit on the number of skilled people, such as engineers, doctors and IT professionals, who can come to live and work here through a new route open to people who meet a salary threshold that the government is consulting on. That route will be open to people with a wide range of qualifications.

The U.K. is home to some of the very best universities in the world and already over 440,000 students from across the world are currently studying in the U.K. We recognize the positive contribution that these students make to our culture and society.

After Brexit we will continue to welcome students from across Europe and we will not limit their numbers. Under the student visa route, every EU student studying at university will have generous work rights whilst studying, and the opportunity to secure permanent, skilled work post-study.

This new immigration system allows us to deliver on the views that the British people expressed in the EU referendum, but it will still enable Europeans with the skills and experience that will benefit the U.K. economy and our society to come.

We are not just reassessing the shape of our immigration system, we are also taking steps to modernize the processes that support it. As part of that, we will introduce a new Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme — similar to the ETIAS system announced by the EU last week.

It will be a simple online service with a low fee and will allow EU citizens to come for short visits and people with biometric passports will be able to go through our efficient e-gates as smoothly as before.

These proposals show that while we have honored the EU referendum, we will still be open to Europe and look forward to forging the next chapter in our history.

Caroline Nokes is the U.K.s minister of state for immigration.

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