After Brexit, the UK will not favour EU workers over those from non-EU countries, the cabinet has agreed.
The move comes at the recommendation of Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) chairman Professor Alan Manning.
On Monday, he told cabinet that post-Brexit, European Economic Area (EEA) and non-EEA nationals should be part of one immigration system.
The MAC is calling for that system to be skills-based, making it easier for higher-skilled workers to come to the UK when free movement comes to an end.
A Whitehall source told HuffPost UK: “Cabinet agreed that, post-Brexit, it will be a global immigration system with no preference for EU citizens.
“The onus will be on the high skilled, helping to increase productivity. The Home Office will now turn this into a detailed White Paper.”
However, another cabinet source has reportedly told the BBC that the agreement “does not constitute a firm decision”.
The EU’s freedom of movement principle means all citizens - those from the EU countries and Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland - can move, travel and work anywhere in the EU without a visa.
The UK will officially withdraw from the EU on 29 March 2019 and Prime Minister Theresa May is currently midway through tense negotiations, while making contingency plans for a “no-deal” Brexit.
On Friday, May announced that whatever the outcome, the rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK will be guaranteed. She has now added that she hopes the EU will do the same for Britons living abroad.