Employers could face a £1,000 charge for every EU worker they recruit under plans being considered by the Home Office.
Immigration minister Robert Goodwill revealed the controversial plans earlier today in a House of Lords subcommittee looking at post-Brexit migration rules.
Goodwill claimed the charge will "be helpful to British workers who feel they are overlooked".
"In April this year we are also bringing in the immigration skills charge for non-EEA skilled workers. If you want to recruit an Indian computer programmer on a four year contract on top of the existing visa charges and the resident labour market test there will be £1,000 per year," Goodwill told peers.
"So for a four-year contract that employer will need to pay a £4,000 immigration skills charge. That is something that currently applies to non-EU [workers] and it has been suggested to us that it could be applied to [those coming from the] EU."
The Home Office has been contacted for comment.
The news comes after chancellor Philip Hammond suggested certain kinds of skilled workers could be exempted from restriction on movement.
Hammond told MPs late last year the migration of "computer programmers, brain surgeons, bankers [and] senior managers" was not a cause for concern for the public.
Retaining access to skilled European workers has become a huge point of concern for business in the aftermath of last summer's Brexit vote.
Both the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the City of London Corporation have drafted visa plans to allow the capital's businesses to continue recruiting from the continent.