In December, before the holiday season, Google warned us that they would be slowing the approval process for accepting new publishers into Google News.
A month after that announcement, we expected things to be back to normal, but we heard from Google there were still significant delays in the Google News publisher approval process.
So now we are three and a half months later and I learned today Google is still seriously backlogged with Google News publisher submissions. In fact, we think the backlog might have submission approvals or rejections delayed up to a month or two but not longer than three months.
Harvey P. from the Google News team said in a Google News Help thread:
Thanks for your question. We've still got a substantial backlog of sites to process and I can't give any specific timeline. However, for publishers that applied over three months ago, I would encourage you to make sure you responded to our initial email about quality guidelines. If you've lost this email, you may want to consider reapplying. We appreciate your patience.
From this statement, it seems like if you submitted three months ago, you would have received a response by now. So we know the "substantial backlog" is less than three months old.
Forum discussion at Google News Help.