No 10 has said that rules allowing EU nationals to live and work freely in the UK will end in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit at the end of October.
A spokeswoman added that “tougher criminality rules” for those coming to the UK will be introduced.
She also reiterated the government’s desire for an Australian-style points-based system.
Freedom of movement allows EU citizens to live and work in other European Union countries.
Asked about the issue, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said under his government, the UK would not “become remotely hostile to immigration or immigrants”.
He added that “immigration into the UK will be democratically controlled.”
Theresa May’s government had wanted to end freedom of movement and had previously considered extending it to 2021 or allowing EU citizens to stay in the UK for three months before having to apply for a longer stay.
However both those options have now been ditched, in favour of a new approach which will be set out later.
The UK currently hosts about 3.2 million EU nationals.
Under the withdrawal agreement, negotiated by Theresa May, freedom of movement would have stayed for a two year transition period.
However MPs repeatedly voted down Mrs May’s deal and unless an agreement can be reached the UK will leave without a deal on 31 October.
In a no-deal scenario, those EU citizens with the right to permanent residence in the UK – which is granted after they have lived in the UK for five years – should not see their rights affected.
EU nationals who are already in the UK would be unaffected and can apply for settled status or re-settled status in the same way as now.