The government is "completely committed" to its target of reducing net immigration to tens of thousands of people, but the move "will take some time", Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said.
Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show, Ms Rudd said decisions on how to reduce immigration would be made based on what is "best for the economy".
"Once we leave the European Union we will have complete control over who comes into the UK from the EU and who doesn't, with one or two provisos, of course," she said.
"First of all, it's going to be reciprocal - we're going to have to work out what's in the UK's interests, as well, going to the European Union - and [second] what works for our economy."
In an apparent contradiction to Chancellor Phillip Hammond's claim this month that certain "highly-skilled" businessmen, including bankers, will be exempt from immigration curbs, Ms Rudd said it was too early for her to name "specific areas" that would be protected.
"What we're going to look at is how we can get the best for the economy, driving the numbers down, but protecting the people who really add value to the economy," she said.
Ms Rudd gave few details on how her department intended to reach the tens of thousands target, but while she said a points-based immigration system had been "ruled out" as ineffective, she suggested a work permit system was being considered.
Commenting on her Cabinet colleague Boris Johnson's move to back a campaign aimed at pressuring Prime Minister Theresa May over a Brexit deal, Ms Rudd she said that every member of the cabinet was focused on "delivering what the prime minister has asked us to do".
She said that Ms May was "the driver [while] the rest of us are in the car", a reference to a comment she made during an ITV referendum debate that Mr Johnson was the "life and soul of the party, but he's not the man you want driving you home afterwards".