Is VISA stamping must for travel?

Hello,
On my Indian passport I have visa L-2 stamping that expired in 2019. I got visa renewed while living in USA i.e. I-797 A valid until April 2022. I had travelled back to India in July 2021. I want to go back to US now.

Is it possible to travel with valid passport and valid I-797 A ?
I have been waiting to get a consular appointment for more than 40 days. I qualify for Interview waiver/drop box but that also needs booking an appointment.

Please advise.

I-94 attached to I-797 is your work permit. You need a VISA ( travel document granting entry) to enter in the US. As your visa expired in 2019, you need to go for stamping/dropbox.

Thanks for your response.
I am already so frustrated with waiting for drop box appointments since 3 months, that I was even willing to risk of booking tickets and show up at immigration to take a chance. But I will not do so now as it seems like visa stamping is must even with valid work I-797A. I was wondering if both the governments are making some concessions in wake of COVID-19 situations to make people’s life easier but apparently nobody cares.

@Naveed_Desai_Gorwank Did you explore options to get visa stamped outside of India?

@MANDAR1 , May you please provide more information on this? I did a quick lookup on the internet but would appreciate any recommendation. Thanks in advance.

Hi Naveed,

Sorry looks like Mexico US consulate is not processing Third country national at this time.
Status of U.S. Consular Operations in Mexico in Light of COVID-19 - U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico (usembassy.gov)

Canada US consulate page doesn’t mention any such restriction. Someone from this forum is trying this route
H1B Visa Stamping as Third Country National in Canada - USA / H1B Visa - RedBus2US Community

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Check with Nepal/Bangladesh/Srilanka consulates. Could be easier than getting Canadian tourist visa.