Home Secretary Amber Rudd seeks to reassure Conservative MPs post-Brexit immigration would support the UK economy, though MPs have rejected amendments that would protect EU citizens living in the UK.
The UK government has reassured Conservative MPs that the nation will have an immigration system that "supports our economy and protects our public services" after Britain leaves the European Union.
In a letter to MPs, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that securing the right to remain of EU expats working in Britain was a top priority for the government and that "nothing will change" after Brexit for any EU citizen in Britain without a vote in parliament.
Ms Rudd wrote the letter after the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday evening to back the government's bill to trigger Article 50 - formal notification to the EU that the UK is quitting the EU.
Many backbench Conservative MPs have voiced fears over the future status of the estimated three million EU citizens currently living in Britain, and businesses' ability to hire the foreign talent they need after Brexit. The government has refused to guarantee the right to remain until negotiations start and the rights of 1.3 million UK expats in Europe are similarly assured.
Separate Immigration Bill to determine post-Brexit immigration system
In her letter, Ms Rudd said: "The Great Repeal Bill will not change our immigration system. This will be done through a separate Immigration Bill and subsequent secondary legislation so nothing will change for any EU citizen, whether already resident in the UK or moving from the EU, without parliament's approval.
"I've always been clear that after we leave the European Union we will have an immigration system that supports our economy and protects our public services, and that should mean securing the rights of EU citizens already here, as well as establishing a new immigration system for new arrivals from the EU once we have left.
"But this isn't just about ensuring British businesses and our public sector have access to the right workers, we owe it to those many European citizens who have contributed so much to this country to resolve this issue as soon as possible and give them the security they need to continue to contribute to this country."
Will the House of Lords challenge or amend the Brexit legislation?
In the Commons on Wednesday, MPs backed the government bill to trigger Brexit negotiations by 494 votes to 122. The size of the government majority appears to have lessened the likelihood that the unelected House of Lords - where there is no government majority - will succeed in amending the legislation.
In the wake of the vote, Brexit Secretary David Davis said: "We've seen a historic vote tonight - a big majority for getting on with negotiating our exit from the EU and a strong, new partnership with its member states.
"It has been a serious debate, a healthy debate, with contributions from MPs representing all parts of the UK, and I respect the strong views on all sides."
Press reports quoted a government source as saying, "The Lords will face an overwhelming public call to be abolished if they now try and frustrate this bill - they must get on and deliver the will of the British people."
However, by Thursday, a Downing Street source had distanced the government from the abolition threat, saying peers had an important role in scrutinising and debating the bill "and we welcome them exercising this role".Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online Directory Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit