Somewhat complex situation with EU girlfriend - bringing us together in the US

(throwaway account for personal reasons)

My EU girlfriend of over 1 year, is visiting me in the US for 3 months in the winter (for around 80-90 days) on ESTA, after which point we're leaving the country to travel (and work remotely) in Europe or South America for a few months (1-3 months).

She will be working alongside me as an outside consultant for my business during this time. Our plan is to live together in the long term and for her to move to the US to be with me legally through a fiance visa and obtaining a green card. From my research, there seem to be a few different ways for me approach this, but with ambiguous CBP and immigration laws, it makes it difficult to figure out the optimal path for us to be together without breaking the law.

My biggest questions revolve around what will enable us to spend time together and not breaking the law while following the proper legal process. With that said, my questions are as follows:

  1. Knowing that we want to be together, can we begin the K-1 visa application right now before she enters the US on her ESTA (in order to expedite the K-1 process as much as we can) or would CBP give her a hard time as to why she's entering the US through ESTA with a pending K-1 application under her name?
  2. Can we classify her travel to the US for business since she will work with me as an outside consultant? Would she be able to enter the US on her ESTA shortly (1-3 months) after leaving the country without a problem?

The situation that I imagined was for her to be with me in the country for 90 days while our K-1 application gets processed, then to leave the country for a few months, before returning again to the US on her ESTA and staying for <90 days, before she goes to her home country to attend the K-1 visa interview. Does this break any laws?

submitted by /u/ranaorong
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