A self-switching mechanism in Mach-Zehnder interferometers (MZIs) is described. The input light signal is distributed unequally over the interferometer arms using an multimode interference (MMI) coupler. In the arms, semiconductor optical amplifiers are placed as nonlinear phase shifters. Unequal intensities yield a nonlinear phase shift. The signals from the two arms are then recombined in an output MMI coupler. If an obtained nonlinear phase shift in the arms can compensate the coupler-induced phase difference between the arms, the signals are in phase at the output port. Choosing an appropriate output coupler, 2×1 and 2×2 devices can be obtained. The 2×2 and 2×1 MZIs can be used as pattern effect compensators and 2R-regenerators or low-loss combiner circuits, respectively. An active-passive integration technique is applied in order to realize the interferometric structures. Fabrication, simulation, and characterization of these devices are presented in this letter.