Your assessment of your profile’s one potential work point is right on. Your work efforts show initiative and you have justifiable issues to explain it (i.e., visa) that prevented a typical upward path. You should make these factors clear in your application, and highlight whatever positive impacts you can, plus the meaningful growth arising from the work. You can use an optional essay to discuss the visa situation. And try to have your recommenders be very, very positive about your accomplishments, potential for management, and leadership.
While this is the application’s problematic point, I believe you’re still a viable candidate for the programs
you mention – instead of being “on par,” it makes them more in the “reasonable reach” category, but still definitely worth applying. Good luck!
Senior Advisor, Accepted
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