Only dependants that are already in the UK as your Tier 4 or Student dependant (partner and/or child under 18) can apply as a dependant under the Graduate route. This means that if your dependants are outside the UK, and you wish for them to receive Graduate route leave alongside you, they must join you under the Student route first. As with the main applicant, there is no maintenance requirement for a Graduate route dependant.
There is no deadline for them to join you on the Student route in the UK, other than your current Tier 4 or Student visa expiry date. Therefore it is important your dependants join you in the UK before your Tier 4 or Student visa expires. If your dependant does join you when you have less than six months remaining on your visa, please note that they will not pay the immigration health surcharge and would be liable to pay for any NHS treatment they receive until they successfully become a Graduate route dependant.
The Graduate route caseworker guidance confirms (page 20) that a dependant does not need to apply at the same time as the main applicant. A Student dependant's deadline for switching to Graduate dependant is therefore the expiry date of their Student dependant permission.
A child who applies must have both their parents in the UK, and the parents must either be applying at the same time or already have immigration permission, except as a Visitor. The three exceptions to the requirement that both parents must be in the UK are the same exceptions as for a Student dependant application. The application would need to include evidence that either the Graduate route applicant is the sole surviving parent, or they have sole custody of the child, or that "there are serious and compelling reasons to grant the child permission to stay with the [Graduate route applicant".
As with someone switching from Student to Graduate, someone who applies to switch from Student dependant to Graduate dependant who themselves had a government or agency scholarship for UK study must have the consent of the financial sponsor for their Graduate dependant application. See above: "Studies sponsored by a government or a scholarship agency".
We asked the Home Office to allow everyone to bring dependants under the Graduate route, not just those who could already bring dependants under their Student permission. The Home Office did not agree to this. This leaves all those switching in from a part-time postgraduate course and most applicants switching in from an undergraduate course unable to bring dependants.
If this affects you, and if it is important to bring your dependants to the UK, you may want to prioritise switching from the Graduate route into another work route, for example Worker, as soon as possible. Alternatively, your dependant may be able to apply for a long-term visa in their own right for study or work, or use a Standard Visitor visa to visit you for a maximum of six months.
Your Graduate route dependant will have the same work conditions as you. The only prohibition is on working as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.