EU nationals who arrive in the UK in the post-Brexit "implementation period" will have the right to stay in the country indefinitely under Government proposals.
In an attempt to break the deadlock with Brussels, ministers unveiled plans that mean European migrants and their family members will be free to continue to come to Britain to work and study without any new constraints for up to two years after March 2019.
Those who live here for five years will then have the opportunity to seek indefinite leave to remain.
The plans were detailed in a policy statement published by the Home Office and the Department for Exiting the EU on Wednesday.
It notes that during negotiations the EU has proposed that the provisions on citizens' rights in the withdrawal agreement should apply as of the end of the implementation period.
But the paper said: "Given the UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019, and become a third country, we do not believe this is the right approach.
"The expectations of EU citizens arriving in the UK after our exit will not be the same as those who moved here before our withdrawal, and the same will be true of UK nationals moving to an EU Member State.
"It should therefore be for the UK and for Member States to determine the rights and pathways to settlement that new arrivals will have if they wish to remain beyond the implementation period."
Under the plans EU citizens and their family members will be able to move to the UK during the implementation period on the same basis as they do today.
This means there will be no new constraints on working or studying in Britain until the final post-Brexit immigration system is introduced.
A "straightforward and streamlined" registration system will be launched for EU citizens and their family members who arrive in the UK during the implementation period and choose to stay for more than three months.
Those who arrive, are resident and have registered, during the implementation period will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain after living in the UK for five years continuously and lawfully.
In order to reach that stage, they will be offered a temporary status enabling them to stay after the implementation period has concluded.
A key difference between the arrangements and those for EU citizens who are already living in Britain at the point of exit relates to the right to be joined by family members.
People who come after Brexit will be able to bring spouses, partners and children to the UK once the implementation period ends.
But these rights will be on a par with rules for British citizens, whereas EU nationals resident prior to departure can bring family members to the UK under EU law.
Under the current regime UK citizens who wish to be joined by non-European dependants have to earn at least £18,600 a year.
The Government's document said the rights proposed for the implementation period will be enforceable in the UK legal system.
It added: "The UK considers that its offer to EU citizens who arrive during the implementation period regarding their rights after that period ends is a pragmatic step towards implementing our future immigration system."