"They are our friends, family and colleagues and we want them to stay"
The British government has revealed plans for a simplified 'three step' settlement scheme for EU citizens looking to stay in the UK after Brexit.
The planned post-Brexit scheme will allow European citizens obtain a new immigration status in a "streamlined and user-friendly" way.
The online application system will be available on smartphones, tablets and computers.
EU citizens in the UK will need to "prove their identity, show that that they live in the UK, and declare that they have no serious criminal convictions".
The UK's Home Office says existing records mean that proof of residence will be automatic for many people.
The process will cost £65 (€74) to apply - or half that for a child under 16 - while those who already have permanent residence will be able to exchange to the new 'settled status' for free.
Officials also say close family members living overseas will be able to join 'settled' EU citizens in the UK in the future.
The UK's Home Secretary Sajid Javid explained: "The new application system will be streamlined and user-friendly and draw on existing government data, to minimise the burden on applicants to provide evidence of their residence.
"Throughout, we will be looking to grant, not for reasons to refuse, and caseworkers will be able to exercise discretion in favour of applicants where appropriate, to minimise administrative burdens."
Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes added: "EU citizens make a huge contribution to our economy and to our society. They are our friends, family and colleagues and we want them to stay."
The settlement scheme will be rolled out from later this year, before being fully opened by the time the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.