You may be having flashbacks to when you were a high school student applying to colleges, but it's true—references are key to your EB-1 visa application. If you are applying for an EB-1 immigrant visa, you should be a superstar in your field, whether it is business, the arts, the sciences, or athletics. You're not just good—you're the best—and there are a lot of people who know it.
The EB-1(A) is a subcategory of the EB-1 and it is called "Alien of Extraordinary Ability." When you are applying, the burden of proof is on you and your lawyer to show how vital your contributions have been in your field. Letters of recommendation can prove to be essential in pleading your case to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The USCIS does not tell you how many recommendation letters you must send in, but we do recommend at least five (don't go overboard, though—the folks at the USCIS are busy people, and they don't want to read about how wonderful you are for hours on end). You want these letters to be from experts in your field or a person in a supporting field; this could mean a co-worker, supervisor, former professor, or simply a colleague you've met in your industry. Some people like to find a couple people they barely know, or don't know at all, to provide a more objective and completely unbiased look at their accomplishments.
Many people will probably want to help you by giving you a recommendation, but when it comes down to it, those people are also busy and don't always have time to sit down and write a full letter. If they are willing to write the whole letter, give them a brief outline of points they may want to cover—what they think about you, your contributions to your field, and any achievements or awards. If they want to help you, but don't have time, some EB-1 visa candidates will write the recommendation letter and then the recommending person will just review and sign it.