Amber Rudd urges EU citizens to stay in UK post-Brexit
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has written to EU nationals urging them to stay in the UK after Brexit.
She is the latest senior figure to voice the message after Theresa May struck a similar tone last week.
In her letter, Ms Rudd says she is "proud that so many EU citizens like yourself have built your lives in the UK and made it your home".
She continues: "We value your contribution which is why the Government put safeguarding your rights as the first priority in the Brexit negotiations.
"I am absolutely delighted that we have now reached an agreement with the EU that does this.
"I know that at times you've had an anxious wait while the fine details were ironed out, but we wanted to get it right and we have always had you at the forefront of our thoughts."
The Home Secretary says she hopes the agreement reached earlier this month "provides certainty to you and your family ahead of Christmas".
She concludes: "EU citizens, like yourself, who have made the UK their home are our family, our neighbours and our colleagues and we want you to stay."
EU citizens who arrive by March 29 2019 and have been continuously and lawfully living in the UK for five years will be able to apply to stay indefinitely by getting settled status.
Those who have been in the country for less than five years before the exit date will be able to apply to remain until they have reached the five-year threshold.
Ms Rudd's letter, sent to more than 120,000 recipients on the Home Office's mailing list, says: "The agreement we have reached ensures the rights you and your family currently have remain broadly the same with access to healthcare, benefits and pensions protected.
"And your existing close family members living outside the UK retain the right to join you in future.
"These rights will be cemented in UK law meaning you can live your life as you do now with the security of knowing they won't change."
The Home Secretary also seeks to reassure EU nationals about the new system being designed to handle applications.
She says: "There won't be bureaucratic hurdles - those processing applications will work in your favour.
"What's more, it will cost no more than the fee a British person pays for a passport and if you already have valid permanent residence documentation it will be free.
"There will be support for the vulnerable and those without access to a computer, and we're working with EU citizens' representatives and embassies to ensure the system works for everyone."