Can my partner travel on an ESTA to the US while waiting for an appointment for a B2 visa?

Both my partner and I applied for research grants to work at the University of Hawaii (we both work in Pacific linguistics).

We just found out he didn't get his grant so I have started my application for the J1. My position is due to start in February. We're not married so I couldn't apply for a J2 for him.

Our plan was to spend the next 14 months there but this has thrown a big spanner in the works. He's able to keep his job at the university here in Europe (Switzerland) and work remotely.

If he applies for a B1/B2 now, which currently has a 90day + long waiting time for an appointment, can he come and join me on an ESTA and fly back for his appointment for a B1/B2 with the embassy in Switzerland on the right date?

Is that our best option? Are there others? Can I marry him now before we go even though my own application is being processed?

submitted by /u/Picassoslovechild
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source https://www.reddit.com/r/immigration/comments/rhnamp/can_my_partner_travel_on_an_esta_to_the_us_while/

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