USCIS announced today that, as of September 25, 2009, only 46,700 cap-subject H-1B numbers have been used from the fiscal 2010 allotment of 65,000. This means approximately 18,300 numbers remain available.
USCIS' fiscal year runs from October 1st to September 30th, so fiscal 2010 starts today (Happy New (fiscal) Year!). This means, among other things, that people holding fiscal 2010 H-1B approvals are probably starting work today. Those still waiting for fiscal 2010 approvals can't start work yet, but now they can start immediately upon approval, provided their petition specified an October 1st start date.
The filing window for fiscal 2010 H-1B petitions opened on April 1, 2009, and approximately 42,000 petitions were filed almost immediately. In the 6 months since April 1st, only an additional 4,700 applications have been filed, an average of less than 800 applications per month. However, there were approximately 1600 H-1B filings in September, a dramatic increase over previous months. This increase could have been due to the imminent approach of October 1st, or it could be an indication of a recovering economy, or perhaps a combination, or perhaps something else entirely. Only time will tell, so I'll continue to monitor the filing numbers in the months ahead.
Whatever the reason for the increase in filings in September, if filings remain constant at 1,600 per month, we may not run out of H-1B numbers this year. That hasn't happened since 2003, when the allotment was 195,000. The allotment reverted to 65,000 in 2005.