I am currently going through this process now. My boyfriend completed this process last year. Here is his experience. Sent in the CR application, with no reference letters on May 26, 2017. He sent it to the New York, NY location as we live in western New York. He received an email with the "OK" on October 20, 2016. So his process took about 5 months. We are both US citizens. I sent my application in, without reference letters, but with a copy of an award I won in my profession, on September 4th. I'll be sure to keep everyone posted if I hear anything back.