I've asked quite a lot of native speakers about this and the general consensus seems to be that there is no significant difference in meaning between "欢迎你到中国来" and "欢迎你来到中国" (and similar sentences), but "欢迎你到中国来" seems to be the more common and natural version.
There definitely is an important point that many people seem to be unaware of, which is that "欢迎你到中国来" can be used to make invitations ("you're welcome to come to China"), although Chinese native speakers nearly always mis-translate this into "welcome to China" when speaking English. "欢迎你来到中国" is definitely only for when they've already arrived in China.
The tricky point here is that one or two native speakers I've asked believe that strictly speaking, "欢迎你到中国来" should only be used for invitations, and cannot be used if the person is already in China. But textbooks and many other native speakers routinely use it for "welcome to China".
So my question is: which is it?
- A: "欢迎你到中国来" and "欢迎你来到中国" can both mean "welcome to China". "欢迎你来到中国" is only for this, whilst "欢迎你到中国来" can also be used for invitations.
- B: "欢迎你到中国来" is only for invitations, and "欢迎你来到中国" is only for welcoming.
I'm looking for answers focused on these two options (even if neither is the correct explanation).
UPDATE BASED ON ANSWERS: It seems there is no definitive answer to this. The summary seems to be that A is mostly correct: these are pretty much the same. However, some native speakers believe that strictly speaking B is correct, even if people don't generally care about the difference.