Caixin reports that visa applications to the US were up 43% in the 2012 fiscal year. If that's the US government's fiscal year, that means from October 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. Here's part of their story:
U.S. Processes Over 1 Mln Visa Applications from China
The U.S. State Department said on July 12 that over one million Chinese visa applications had been processed in the 2012 fiscal year, a 43 percent increase from 2011. The increase is the result of measures taken to attract more Chinese visitors, including expanding staff and reducing waiting times at U.S. embassies.
Besides greater efficiency, might this in part also be a result of China's sluggish growth? After the financial crisis, where China did not suffer as much as others and then launched an RMB 4 trillion stimulus, there was a wave of returnees, and I'd expect, a relative decrease in visa applications to go abroad, including to the US.
This is just total conjecture. I'd welcome info from someone more informed.