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Expanded visa scheme 'could allow many Britons to work in EU post-Brexit'

Thousands of Britons could work in the EU after Brexit under an expanded visa scheme, according to a new report.

Plans to step up the inflow of highly-skilled migrants from outside the bloc would provide opportunities for British nationals even without any special agreement following negotiations over the UK's departure, said Migration Watch UK.

Analysis by the think tank - which campaigns for tighter immigration controls - focused on the Blue Card programme, which was launched in 2009.

A Blue Card gives highly qualified workers from outside the EU the right to live and work in a member state provided they meet specific conditions.

The scheme applies in 25 out of 28 EU member states - with Denmark, Ireland and the UK not participating.

However, only a limited number of the documents have been issued and l ast year officials unveiled proposals to revamp the rules around the initiative.

Measures include establishing a single EU-wide scheme lowering salary thresholds for applicants.

Around one million UK nationals are currently long-term residents of other EU countries.

The Migration Watch paper estimates that in the five EU states where the most EU-based British nationals live, and which implement the Blue Card - Spain, France, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium - the prospective salary threshold range under the proposed new regime would be between £17,000 and £46,400 a year.

Alanna Thomas, executive director of Migration Watch, said: "British citizens hoping to work in the EU post-Brexit need not be concerned about getting a work permit.

"The EU is in the process of expanding their scheme and easing the conditions."

Post-Brexit arrangements for immigration from the EU to Britain, and vice-versa, are yet to be thrashed out and the issue will be at the centre of discussions over the UK's departure.

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