USCIS announced that as of December 21, 2009, it received enough H-1B petitions to reach the fiscal year 2010 cap. All petitions received on that date will be subject to a computerized random lottery to select enough petitions to meet the cap.
USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions not subject to the cap, such as extensions of H-1B status, changes of employer, concurrent H-1B employment and petitions for cap-exempt institutions. For all other H-1B petitions, the earliest that they can be filed is April 1, 2010, and the earliest start date is October 1, 2010.
It will be interesting to see how many H-1B petitions are filed during the first week of April 2010. If the economy is expected to grow as slowly as they are predicting, then the H-1B cap will most likely not be reached within the first week. If the economy heats up more quickly, then we will be stuck with the irrational lottery once again. Now is the time to rid of the cap and let US employers determine how many H-1Bs they need.