“What happens if I overstay my tourist visa?” is the question lawyers and immigration consultants are being asked.

It’s not like you can visit our friendly neighborhood immigration official to find out. The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has led to Mexico shutting down its immigration offices until further notice. Flights are being canceled and border restrictions are in place in Canada and other countries.

It puts visitors here in a pickle, since most are here on a 180-day tourist visa, or FMM.

“It is better for you to stay in Mexico than to risk spreading or catching the virus while traveling,” said Easy Legal Mexico, a Merida law firm that works with expats who are navigating Yucatan’s bureaucracy and attempting to stay in compliance with the law.

“If you’re in Mexico on a tourist visa (FMM) at present, there is no official extension for the tourist visa, but the government has informed us that there will be no penalties for overstaying your tourist visa,” according to the ELM blog.

For temporary resident visas that expire soon, the offices will accept your application to renew, but it is not something they can currently modify in their system. The lawyers advise temporary residents to submit before the deadline anyway to avoid having to go back to square one.

The same goes for the “canje” or exchanging your tourist visa for either a temporary or permanent resident visa. You will have to submit the application three days before it expires.

Immigration officials have not offered an approximate date to re-open and resume providing immigration services.

Once it has been officially declared safe to travel again, anyone who has overstayed their tourist visa should book a ticket immediately.

“If you leave more than a few weeks or more after your FMM expiry date, when it has been advised that it is safe to travel, there could be a problem,” said Vikki Hillman of Merida Expat Services, which has closed its offices temporarily.