As of 3 weeks ago when I last "ganged", it was 9 months electronically ($35) and 1 1/2 years by mail ($45) - but either way your images are considered to be legally copyrighted upon receipt, err - your check is cashed by the CO. 3 years ago, it was 6 - 8 months, mail only.
Electronic Submission = a couple of days to legally protected status.
Legally, recovering damages for infringement is nearly impossible and you are not considered a "professional" photographer unless your images are copyrighted. Get what you can - for you, for us.
thanks for the time frame correction ROL ..
it is good to know ..