Since I just went through the USDA APHIS small lots of seed permit process I wanted to report a couple of things for those who are US citizens importing seeds from outside the US. The very first time I applied for a permit I mailed the application in, because from the instructions on the NARGS website it sounded like the online system required a visit to a USDA office. From what I remember mailing the application did take at least thirty days to acquire the permit, but at the time I was not in a hurry.
This year I went to apply for a new permit and decided to fax the permit application, to save time. I called the USDA headquarters to check on the status of my application and it appears that my fax either didn't arrive or was lost. Since it took two or three calls to check the status I was asked why I hadn't applied online. The representative explained to me that the level two verification for US citizens was essentially the same as applying for a free credit report online. I went through the process and was able to apply for the online eauthentification in less than an hour. I applied for the permit later that afternoon, and had the permit as a pdf the very next day. The application process isn't as straight forward online. Using the directions in the NARGS seed exchange some of the fields had to be filled in using the Other category in the drop down menu, and then type in the required text in the new field that appears with the "other" category.
After applying for the permit online, I kept waiting for a paper copy of the permit and the shipping labels to show up in the mail. So far they haven't. So I applied for the shipping labels online and received a pdf set of shipping labels the next day by email.
So the moral of the story is you can receive a small lots of seed permit in as little as three days if you are a US citizen. Hopefully this is helpful to someone. I didn't find this information in the forum elsewhere.
Thanks for that. I might also add the one problem I had was that I would request labels online in pdf form, went online later to find that the number of labels I had asked for were produced, but I never received them. I discovered I have two separate personal profiles within the general USDA site. One had all the info I had inputted that included my email, and the other was basically just my name. Once I filled in the second profile, I received my labels. This was more than six years ago, so perhaps things have changed. But if anyone encounters this problem, look for that other profile!